A bionic hand that can allow an amputee to touch and feel is being developed in Europe. The project aims to hard wire this hand into the nervous system, allowing sensory feedback from the hand to reach the brain, and instructions to come from the brain to control the hand, at least in part.
The fully sensitized five fingered robotic hand works similarly to a real hand that pulls tendons via muscles by working cables via the tiny motors. CYBERHAND uses Longitudinal IntraFascicular Electrodes (LIFEs) to connect the hand to the wearer’s nervous system and includes sensors for tension, force, joint angle, end stroke and contact.
The prototype integrates the two types of human senses. One senses where parts of the body are relative to other parts, whether our fingers are open or closed, for example. The other relates to taste, touch, sound, hearing and sight that tell us about the external world.
Although this bionic hand has not been tested on a human yet, testing should begin as early as 2006 with a unit possibly for sale as early as 2011.