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 Midwife and signpost for photons
11.12.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht New research identifies how 3-D printed metals can be both strong and ductile
11.12.2017 | University of Birmingham

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: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Midwife and signpost for photons

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>