With Iron Man looking on, Italian technology designer Federico Ciccarese holds a white plastic hand rigged with multicolored wires attached to an electronic switchboard. He is about to start a demo of his YouBionic hand. In the window behind him, the sun is setting — it’s evening in Milan — and to his left, a life-size poster of Tony Stark in full metal garb.
“He’s my assistant,” Ciccarese jokes. “And also my hero and inspiration because he cared about humanity.”
He turns on the hand, and its white chalky fingers clench into a fist. Then they unclench and the palm is open again. Finally, the index finger and the thumb form a circle, as if holding a small, delicate object.