All-seeing hand – new generation of prosthetic limbs

All-seeing hand
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All-seeing hand – it’s been a 100 years since change 

A new generation of prosthetic limbs which will allow the wearer to reach for objects automatically, without thinking – just like a real hand – are to be trialled for the first time.

The bionic hand is fitted with a camera which instantaneously takes a picture of the object in front of it, assesses its shape and size and triggers a series of movements in the hand.  This development is being led by biomedical engineers at Newcastle University and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

A small number of amputees have already trialled the new technology and now the Newcastle University team are working with experts at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS foundation trust to offer the ‘hands with eyes’ to patients at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

Co-author on the study Dr Kianoush Nazarpour, a Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at Newcastle University, explains:

“Prosthetic limbs have changed very little in the past 100 years – the design is much better and the materials’ are lighter weight and more durable but they still work in the same way.”

He added: “Now, for the first time in a century, we have developed an ‘intuitive’ hand that can react without thinking.”

Dr Kianoush gave more details:  “Using computer vision, we have developed a bionic hand which can respond automatically – in fact, just like a real hand, the user can reach out and pick up a cup or a biscuit with nothing more than a quick glance in the right direction”.

Stats

Recent statistics show that in the UK there are around 600 new upper-limb amputees every year, of which 50% are in the age range of 15-54 years old. In the US there are 500,000 upper limb amputees a year.

This science has given many in need of prosthetics great hope. It will bring reality to the use of limbs and everyday way of life. Taking hold and moving an item has got to be the best

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