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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Revolutionary bionic hand that 'sees' objects and triggers the correct grip 'within milliseconds'

A revolutionary bionic hand that 'sees' objects and instantly decides what kind of grip to adopt has been developed by scientists.

For the first time, the hand can self-select one of four grips depending on whether it is picking up an apple or holding a pen between thumb and forefinger.

All the person in charge of it must do is glance at the object they want to pick up and picture clenching their fist.

The breakthrough, which uses a 99p ($1.30) webcam to work out the grasp needed, does away with hours of exhausting training for amputees using clumsy traditional prosthetics.

Currently they must learn up to a dozen ‘trigger actions’ – imagining precise movements to send brain signals which activate muscles connected to electrodes on their stump. That can lead to repeated frustration if the prosthetic crushes or spills what it is picking up.

The camera does all this hard work for the hundreds of British amputees, by judging an object based on a database of almost 500 items and changing its grasp accordingly.

The research is part of a larger project to develop a bionic hand that can sense pressure and temperature and transmit the information back to the brain

Picking something up is claimed to take milliseconds using the device, 10 times faster than a traditional artificial hand. It is hoped the hand will be made available for NHS patients within two years.

Dr Kianoush Nazrpour, co-author of the study on the prosthetic hand, said: ‘For many amputees the reference point is their healthy arm or leg so prosthetics seem slow and cumbersome in comparison. ‘Now, for the first time in a century, we have developed an “intuitive” hand that can react without thinking.’

To create the new prosthetic, biomedical engineers at Newcastle University trained a computer to recognise nearly 500 objects photographed from more than 70 different angles.

This allowed it to judge the right grip, such as a pinch between thumb and forefinger to pick up a pen or the ‘palm wrist pronated’ grip to pick up a television remote.

Credit to dailymail.co.uk

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