A company called TouchBionics creates hyper-realistic skin for prosthetic limbs, complete with nails and hair and texture. Watch the mesmerizing making-of process unfold in this video. It all starts with taking physical measurements of a patient’s hand, which gets inputted into a Sims-like engine for customization, with options for derma-hair, freckles, veins, and a selection of nail shapes.
Next, engineers pour a mold over the model hand, waits for it to dry, and then takes off the mold like a baseball glove. Hot waxed gets poured inside the mold, shaped and cools down in an ice bath. Next, limbs get dipped and coated in metal. The metal limbs vessels for the silicone pour. The clear silicone limbs take on a ghostly look, with a pliable life-like texture. Once the silicone gets dry, the limbs are painted in painstaking detail, using photo references to get just the right touch of color. The last step calls for detailed fingernails to be painted and added.
After “vigorous testing,” the skins gets shipped off and outfitted as prosthetics. Touch Bionicsmakes both passive and active functioning prosthetics: passive functioning prosthetics, like these living skins, are designed to look hyper realistic, complete with hair, tattoos and nails, but may have fewer functional features. It’s not too hard to imagine a Westworld like future, though, when realistic limbs gets combined with medical technology for artificial limbs that can move, look and feel like real ones.