Robotic Hand Offers Users a Real Sense of Touch

Robotic Hand Offers Users a Real Sense of Touch

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Near-full sensory perception for amputees isn't the distant dream it once was.

While the past few years have been exciting in terms of technology generally, they have been especially exciting in the field of prosthetics. The designs behind prosthetic arms and hands live in a state of perpetual inmprovement, offering their users more and more functionality every year. Now, however, a team based in Lausanne, Switzerland has unveiled something really game-changing: the first prosthetic in the world to offer its wearer a true sense of touch.

Developed by Dr. Silvestro Micera of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne and his team, the prosthetic is designed to be attached to the two main nerves in its owner's arm. By hooking the limb and its advanced wiring directly into the nervous system in this way, Micera believes that the wearer will be able to experience real sensations of touch and grasp at the same time as controlling it using just the power of their mind.

"This is real progress, real hope for amputees. It will be the first prosthetic that will provide real-time sensory feedback for grasping," said Dr Micera at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting this week.

"It is clear that the more sensory feeling an amputee has, the more likely you will get full acceptance of that limb," he continued.

While a few notable prosthetics have allowed those wearing them to move them with their minds and experience basic sensations, Micera's prosthetic goes a step beyond. "The idea would be that it could deliver two or more sensations. You could have a pinch and receive information from three fingers, or feel movement in the hand and wrist," Micera said.

Micera continued, "We have refined the interface [connecting the hand to the patient], so we hope to see much more detailed movement and control of the hand."

The device in question will soon be given to an unnamed Italian man in his 20's who lost one hand and part of an arm in an accident. A few questions still remain regarding how comfortable users will find such an attachment, and whether or not having wires going directly into their skin, rather than beneath it, will prove too problematic. If the experience of Italian X proves to be a positive one, however, Micera hopes to have a fully kitted-out version with subdermal wiring ready for much wider distribution within 2 years. Good feelings, hey? Good feelings all round.

Source: The Independent

Image: Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

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I love this kind of stuff. It's amazing. I can only imagine where we'll be in 20 years or so at the rate technology is advancing. Phenomenal stuff.

I totally asked for this. Imagine the possibilities 20 years from now.

Saw this in the paper the other day. It is pretty incredible.

Sign me up for some blades arms.

Ever have one of those days where you wake up and realise, holy crap, the future's knocking at our door?

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Adam Jensen:
I totally asked for this. Imagine the possibilities 20 years from now.

ah, damn you beat me to it.

Froggy Slayer:
Ever have one of those days where you wake up and realise, holy crap, the future's knocking at our door?

Oh yeah. Every day I hear more exciting stuff that sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie. Like these two things:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CP1oBwccARY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAMZPXhxBxo

It's incredible the things that we can manage. There was a time not long ago when robot hands were just something that sounded freakin' sweet, but now the time has come for them to actually BE something freakin' sweet.

I think I speak for all escapists when I say: But does it vibrate?

Adam Jensen:
I totally asked for this. Imagine the possibilities 20 years from now.

Oh, I am, sir.

I am so looking forward to this.

FalloutJack:

Adam Jensen:
I totally asked for this. Imagine the possibilities 20 years from now.

Oh, I am, sir.

I am so looking forward to this.

I can't wait to connect my brain to Internet forums :D

Just as I was finishing Deus Ex HR too. Now I'm picturing someone using hacking to make a man kill himself with his own robotic hand. That would make a great horror element.

Practice on a hotdog first.

First colors through sound for colorblind people (Neil Harbisson), now this. Can't wait until augmentations get popular.

*Reads the first part of article* "HONEY GET THE AXE" *reads rest of article* "Wait not yet." One day robo death arms one day.

So, when should i start sawing my hando ff so i could get this installed?

CapchA: until next time

oh well i guess ill have to wait.

I'm planning to go into this sort of field later in life (That of robotic prostheses) and to see something like this makes me think two things. Number one: it seems like I'll be going into a field that has some considerable momentum! Number two: fuck, I'm missing the boat!

Yay! Now millionaires can have their hands again!

 

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