Scientists Unveil the First Portable Bionic Hand With a Sense of Touch
Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies
The first portable bionic hand restores the sense of touch in people who lost their limbs. Although the hand is still a prototype, we're one step closer to the day when a fully natural, sensorized prosthesis will be available.
A woman who lost her arm over 20 years ago has received the first portable bionic hand, which through a series of tiny electrodes and sophisticated sensors, has restored her sense of touch.
The technology unites the portable bionic hand with a computer that translates the information coming from the artificial fingers into a language the brain can understand, which it then sends back to the body through the electrodes.
This breakthrough is the result of many years of robotic research carried out by teams in Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. Even though she’s central to this amazing innovation, Almerina Mascarello, who was chosen to test the prototype for six months, doesn’t feel like a superhuman. Instead, she told BBC that the prosthetic limb gave her back some of life’s simple pleasures, such as getting dressed or tying her shoes with no help. “All mundane things, really, but important. You feel complete,” she said.
Paolo Rossini, a neurologist at University Hospital Agostino Gemelli in Rome, sees the technology’s potential beyond the day-to-day. He told the 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.”
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