by Jennifer Chu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Caption:An MIT-developed inflatable robotic hand gives amputees real-time tactile control. The smart hand is soft and elastic, weighs about half a pound, and costs a fraction of comparable prosthetics. Credit: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
For the more than 5 million people in the world who have undergone an upper-limb amputation, prosthetics have come a long way. Beyond traditional mannequin-like appendages, there is a growing number of commercial neuroprosthetics—highly articulated bionic limbs, engineered to sense a user’s residual muscle signals and robotically mimic their intended motions.
But this high-tech dexterity comes at a price. Neuroprosthetics can cost tens of thousands of dollars and are built around metal skeletons, with electrical motors that can be heavy and rigid.
Now engineers at MIT and Shanghai Jiao Tong University have designed a soft, lightweight, and potentially low-cost neuroprosthetic hand. Amputees who tested the artificial limb performed daily activities, such as zipping a suitcase, pouring a carton of juice, and petting a cat, just as well as—and in some cases better than —those with more rigid neuroprosthetics.Continue reading… “Inflatable robotic hand gives amputees real-time tactile control”