Scientists have created the first portable bionic hand that restores the sense of touch in people who have lost their limbs. The bionic hand prototype is connected to a computer which translates the information coming from the artificial fingers into into a language that the brain can understand and will then be sending back the information back to the body through the electrodes.
Source: Fox News
This innovation is the result of many years of robotic research that has been done by teams in Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. Almerina Mascarello was chosen to test the prototype for six months, and according to her she doesn’t feel like a superhuman. She told BBC that the prosthetic limb was able to give her back some of life’s simple pleasures, like getting dressed or tying her shoes without any help. “All mundane things, really, but important. You feel complete,” she said.
Neurologist at University Hospital Agostino Gemelli, Paolo Rossini sees the great potential of this innovation. He told BBC that “once you can control a robotic prosthesis with your brain you can think about creating one that allows more complex movements than a hand with five fingers.”
In 2014, the technology that was supporting the bionic hand was developed. However, during that time, the equipment that was necessary to support it was so large that the prosthetic limb could not leave the laboratory.
During this time, according to Dennis Aabo Sorensen, who lost his hand in 2004 at a firecracker explosion, being able to regain the experience of touch was “fantastic.” “being able to feel different textures, understanding whether objects were hard or soft and how I was holding them was just incredible,” he told CattolicaNews.
The researchers observed that Dennis was able to distinguish between hard, soft or medium object in 78 percent of cases. In 88 percent of cases, he is able to correctly describe the size and shape of specific objects such as a baseball, a glass and a tangerine. After three years, Almerina could experience the same thing just by carrying a small computer in a backpack.
According to Silvestro Micera, a neuroengineer at EPFL in Lausanne told BBC, “We are going more and more in the direction of science fiction movies like Luke Skywalker’s bionic hand in Star Wars – a fully controlled, fully natural, sensorized prosthesis, identical to the human hand.”