MIT engineers build an inflatable robotic hand that gives amputees real-time tactile control

mit inflatable robotic hand amputee tactile control


Modern high-dexterity prosthetics are quite pricey to say the least, but engineers at MIT and Shanghai Jiao Tong University hope to change that. The team has built a soft, lightweight and potentially inexpensive neuroprosthetic hand that allows amputees to easily perform everyday activities, such as picking up a glass, pouring a carton of juice, petting a dog, or simply zipping up a backpack. Read more for a video and additional information.

It currently costs only $500 to build this inflatable smart hand, which is not only soft but also very elastic. The prosthesis has a tactile feedback system capable of restoring primitive sensation in a volunteer’s residual limb. Despite being lightweight, it is still remarkably durable and able to recover quickly after being hit with a hammer or run over by a car.

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This is not a product yet, but the performance is already comparable or superior to existing neuroprostheses, which we are excited about. There is enormous potential to make this soft prosthesis very cheaply, for low-income families who have suffered from amputations,” said Xuanhe Zhao, a professor of mechanical and civil and environmental engineering at MIT.

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