Sockets have traditionally been like wooden clogs — made by hand, out of a single material, and ultimately rather unforgiving to wear. Now, a radical new socket is giving amputees some control over a crucial part of their everyday lives. LIM’s creation, the Infinite Socket, is a complete rethinking of a crucial prosthetic component, bringing modern technology and thoughtful design to bear on a long-ignored pain point. Where traditional sockets are good for maybe an hour of comfortable walking, an early tester of LIM’s said he walked eight miles around hilly San Francisco on his first day with the prototype.
SAN FRANCISCO PROSTHETIC Orthotic Service, located just around the corner from the Painted Ladies, is a fairly standard prosthetics shop. There’s a receptionist or two in front, with some small rooms behind them where people get fit with prosthetics. Past the rooms, beyond an unmarked door, there’s a workshop where prosthetic parts are made. Here, tools hang on the walls above ovens and lathes, and everything seems to be covered in a fine coating of white plaster dust.