Future of prosthetics: Bionic hand lets you feel what you are holding

This bionic hand allows the user to be able to hold objects and feel what the object is, in real-time.

It has allowed its wearer to feel things in a ‘natural’ way as it combines man and machine.

The researchers behind the EU funded Project NEBIAS believe that, after testing, the prosthetic may on the market in 10 years time.

It works by connecting the existing, and still functioning, nervous system with artificial sensors in the hand to allow it to be moved.

“It is a sort hybrid between a normal part of the body and an artificial part of the body”, said Professior Paili Maria Rossini who worked on the project.


The hand was given to Dennis Aabo Sørensen whose hand was amputated 10 years ago, the same amount of time that the hand has been being developed for.

He originally lost it in a firework accident.

Dennis tested the hand while being blindfolded and feeling the objects that he was able to grasp with the hand.

“They gave me a baseball to hold and for the first time in a decade I could feel I was holding something round in my prosthetic hand,” he said.

“To feel what you’re doing again is an amazing feeling and also so close to be a natural hand because you don’t have to supervise what you’re doing you can actually feel what you’re doing with your hand.

To make him be able to feel again the researchers say that they had to create a selective implantable neuro-interface.

Dr Silvestro Micera explained: “Selective means, for example, that when I’m talking to you in a crowd, I’m not talking to a guy sitting close to you. In other words, the electrodes have an interface with some areas of the nerves and not with others close by.”

The hand has also been fitted with a series of sensors that can detect touch; this data is then sent to the patient so they are able to control it.

The researchers hope to have three or four patients with a long term implants in the next couple of years, with a view to making the device commercially available after clinical testing.

Images courtesy of Project NEBIAS

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