Scientists have developed the first bionic hand which they say will be controlled by a human’s thoughts and can also receive input and send those signals to the brain via the nervous system.
After an Italian man lost the lower section of his arm in an accident, scientists are set to transplant a bionic hand later this year that will allow him to control its movement and ‘feel’ anything that it comes into contact with.
The hand will be connected directly to his nervous system via electrode clips, allowing him to control the unit solely with his mind. While earlier versions have been tested with promising results, this new unit has a much more complex sensory map, allowing him to know which fingers are being touched or if there is contact being made with the palm or wrist. They hope that this also allows for a much more controlled actions.
In the previous version, the hand was controlled with only two sensory connections. He was able to clench his fist, hold objects, and move the bionic fingers, but only felt pins and needles when the hand was touched in certain areas.
After the hand is transplanted, scientists will once again collect data a month’s worth of data from the experiment, and if all goes well, they should get to work on a fully working model within the next two years.
The project is a collaboration between Dr. Silvestro Micera of the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland and Prensilia, an Italian biomechatronics firm.