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Inflatable Robotic Hand Gives Amputees Real-Time Tactile Control


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The smart hand holding a sweet.

The smart hand is soft and elastic, weighs about half a pound, and costs a fraction of comparable prosthetics.

Credit: Xuanhe Zhao et al

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and China's Shanghai Jiao Tong University have constructed an inflatable neuroprosthetic hand that restored rudimentary sensation to an amputee's residual limb.

The researchers fabricated the device from the soft, stretchy elastomer EcoFlex, constructing five balloon-like fingers embedded with fiber segments and linked to a three-dimensionally-printed "palm."

The team inflated the fingers and bent them into specific positions using a simple pneumatic system.

Electromyography sensors positioned where the prosthetic attaches to the user's limb feed signals to the pneumatic system, with an algorithm decoding muscle signals and relating them to common grasp forms.

MIT's Xuanhe Zhao said the hand’s design “can be improved, with better decoding technology, higher-density myoelectric arrays, and a more compact pump that could be worn on the wrist. We also want to customize the design for mass production, so we can translate soft robotic technology to benefit society.”

From MIT News
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Abstracts Copyright © 2021 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


 

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