A prosthetic leg that can sense touch makes it easier for amputees to walk

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The prosthesis tries to replicate the nervous system’s feedback loop.

The issue: People who walk on both legs rely on constant feedback between their nerves and their brain to get around. But people using a prosthesis don’t have this brain-foot loop, which can make harder to walk confidently. A new bionic prosthesis, developed by researchers from ETH Zurich and the Universities of Belgrade and Freiburg, and described in Nature Medicine today, tries to make it easier for amputees to get around by letting them “feel” surfaces again.

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An Inexpensive Pressure-Sensitive Touch Pad Makes Surfaces Smarter

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Ken Perlin (left) and Ilya Rosenberg show off the plastic sheets that are the starting point for their pressure-sensitive touch pads.

Now that more and more smart phones and MP3 players have touch-screen interfaces, people have grown accustomed to interacting with gadgets using only taps and swipes of their fingers. But on the 11th floor of a downtown Manhattan building, New York University researchers Ilya Rosenberg and Ken Perlin are developing an interface that goes even further. It’s a thin pad that responds precisely to pressure from not only a finger but a range of objects, such as a foot, a stylus, or a drumstick. And it can sense multiple inputs at once.

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Future of Computer Interface Will Revolve Around Touch

Future of Computer Interface Will Revolve Around Touch 

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Earlier this week, the humble computer mouse celebrated its 40th birthday. While surprisingly little has changed since Doug Engelbart, an engineer at Stanford Research Institute, in Palo Alto, CA, first demonstrated the mouse to a skeptical crowd in San Francisco, we may have already seen a few glimpses of the future of computer interfaces. If so, over the next few years, the future of the computer interface will likely revolve around touch.

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