Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists develop ’clever’ artificial hand

08.09.2005


Scientists have developed a new ultra-light limb that can mimic the movement in a real hand better than any currently available. This research was presented today at the Institute of Physics conference Sensors and their Applications XIII which took place at the University of Greenwich, Kent, UK.



Every year 200 people in the UK lose their hands. Common causes include motorbike accidents and industrial incidents. Currently available prosthetic hands are either simple mimics that look like a hand but don’t move or moving hands which have a simple single-motor grip.

The human hand has 27 bones and can make a huge number of complex movements and actions. Dr Paul Chappell, a medical physicist from the University of Southampton has designed a prototype hand that uses 6 sets of motors and gears so that each of the five fingers can move independently. This enables it to make movements and grip objects in the same way a real human hand does.


The new hand, called the ’Southampton Remedi-Hand’, can be connected to muscles in the arm via a small processing unit and is controlled by small contractions of the muscles which move the wrist.

Dr Chappell said: "With this hand you can clutch objects such as a ball, you can move the thumb out to one side and grip objects with the index finger in the way you do when opening a lock with a key, and you can wrap your fingers around an object in what we call the power grip – like the one you use when you hold a hammer or a microphone."

Dr Chappell and colleagues in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton set out to try and build a hand which could mimic the movement and flexibility of the human hand and which was also very light. Heavy prosthetics can be extremely uncomfortable and cause injury to the area where it joins with the arm. The new hand they’ve developed is only 400g (even lighter that a real hand which weighs on average 500g).

They built the Remedi-Hand in three parts – the three middle fingers are very similar in size and movement so they made those identical. The pinky is a smaller version of the same. Each of these four fingers are made up of a motor attached to a gearbox attached to a carbon fibre finger. All of this is fitted to a carbon fibre palm. But the thumb was much more complicated and is the first artificially-made opposable thumb.

The human thumb can move in special ways the fingers can’t. It can rotate as well as flex and also move in a variety of different directions. It can also oppose (touch) each of the fingers in the hand to form a ’pinch’. To mimic this, the Remedi-Hand uses two motors – one to allow it to rotate and one to allow it to flex. "The real thumb can move in five types of way, we’ve managed to create a thumb that can mimic at least two of these which is a really exciting achievement. It’s a thumb that has really good flexibility and functionality" says Dr Chappell.

One of the key differences between mechanical, artificial, limbs is that they arn’t able to sense pressure or touch in the same way human limbs can. The next stage of Dr Chappell’s research is to integrate the latest sensors technology with the Remedi-Hand to create a ’clever’ hand which has better functionality and move like a real hand, but which can also sense how strongly it’s gripping an object or whether an object is slipping.

Dr Chappell and colleagues have already designed this ’clever’ hand and are about to start building a fully functioning prototype. It will have piezo-electric sensors in each of the five fingertips which will detect how much force is being exerted on the tip and translate this information into an electrical signal which will be fed to a small processor.

Dr Chappell said: "The aim is to create a hand with the sort of functionality a human hand has but also a sense of touch. This will let the hand know how tightly to grip an object like a coffee cup without dropping it, but not so tightly that it’s crushed. It’ll also have an integrated slip-sensor which will tell the hand if something is beginning to slip out of its grip so it can grip slightly harder. It’ll be quite a clever system."

David Reid | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.iop.org

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Tune your radio: galaxies sing while forming stars
21.02.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie

nachricht Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms
17.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>