Feeds

Fear a terrifying killer robot revolution? GET A GRIP: Boffins invent cyborg hand for humans

Now you can unscrew that jam jar, fight off androids

The next step in data security

Photo A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a powered glove equipped with two robotic fingers that is designed to augment the puny flesh and bone accouterments that adorn our human hands.

MIT robot fingers

Who wants five fingers when you can have seven? Credit: Melanie Gonick/MIT

The glove has sensors to register the wearer's finger movements, and feeds this into a computer algorithm to control the robotic attachments. The mechanical fingers, positioned on either side of the hand, then provide extra grip.

"This is a completely intuitive and natural way to move your robotic fingers," said Harry Asada, the Ford Professor of Engineering in MIT's Department of Mechanical Engineering. "You do not need to command the robot, but simply move your fingers naturally. Then the robotic fingers react and assist your fingers."

To create the control algorithm, the team studied the movement of the human hand and found that all gripping gestures are essentially a combination of bringing the fingers together and twisting them inwards. This could just as easily been mimicked by seven fingers as by five, the researchers reasoned.

As it turns out it's not quite that simple – when is it ever? Everyone's grip is slightly different, and the robotic unit needs some training to successfully copy different people's style of hand movement successfully.

MIT's robot fingers get a grip

MIT's robot fingers get a grip. Credit: Melanie Gonick/MIT

At the moment the robot fingers are designed to merely mimic the gripping style of the user with the same force as exerted by fleshy fingers. But in the future the team wants to add variable force to the mechanical digits and shrink the unit into something everyone could wear on a day-to-day basis.

"This is a prototype, but we can shrink it down to one-third its size, and make it foldable," Asada says. "We could make this into a watch or a bracelet where the fingers pop up, and when the job is done, they come back into the watch. Wearable robots are a way to bring the robot closer to our daily life." ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.