Bizzare MIT Prototype Gives Your Hand Two Extra Robotic Fingers

Friday, 18 July 2014 - 10:52AM
Weird Science
Robotics
Friday, 18 July 2014 - 10:52AM
Bizzare MIT Prototype Gives Your Hand Two Extra Robotic Fingers

Have you recently found yourself in the frustrating situation of trying to carry more than two beers back to your friends at the pub? Maybe you have struggled at your local coffee shop to somehow manage talking on the phone while attempting to stir sugar into your hot coffee, trying not to burn your half awake self?

 

Well you'll be happy to hear that a group of researchers over at MIT have just created a solution to that slightly bizarre problem of yours. 

 

 

The MIT team has created a "extension of the human hand" prototype-- a  two pronged contraption that straps around the wrist, designed to help people do things like "grasp objects that are usually too difficult for them to do with a single hand. For example objects that are too large, too heavy or the surface of the object is too hot or too cold," said a researcher.

 

 
 
 
To the average person, happy with their ten working fingers, the idea of wearing such a bulky device might seem just flat out silly.
Harry Asada, the Ford Professor of Engineering in MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering, argues that devices like these just need some getting used to. "Every day, we use various tools, say a knife and fork and we drive a car and, if we use these tools for a long time, you see that those tools are just an extension of your body."
 
 
 

At first glance, the prototype may not seem like much, but when it comes down to the mechanical engineering, it's actually quite sophisticated. The "extra fingers" react automatically to flexible sensors in the user's hands, moving symbiotically with the user in a seamless and organic manner. "You do not need to command the robot, but simply move your fingers naturally," said Asada, "Then the robotic fingers react and assist your fingers."

 

 

This finger extension prototype is only the stepping stone towards the development of a whole line ofother extensions to the body. Hopefully, if they manage to downsize these devices to sleeker and more life-friendly designs, this technology might become a staple for assistance of the elderly and impaired. 

 

via The Independent

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