Most powered hand prostheses measure the electrical signals (electromyography) produced by muscles near the stump to detect when the user wants to activate the opening or closing of the fingers. While this has worked marginally well so far, this technology doesn’t have the resolution for intuitive individual finger control. Now researchers at Georgia Tech have developed an ultrasound detector that resolves residual muscle activity well enough to control all the five fingers of a hand prosthesis. The technology is already good enough to allow a musician who lost his hand a few years ago to be back to playing the piano.
The sensor watches the movement of the muscles at the stump, and the user intuitively attempts to move the lost fingers. These attempts results in the activity of the remaining muscles related to the fingers that end up generating movement at the stump. Thanks to a novel algorithm, the ultrasound system is able to differentiate which finger the user wants to move, as well as well as how hard to move it.
This is quite an impressive achievement, as this kind of dexterity has been a goal of researchers in the field of prosthetics for many years. Check out the videos below demonstrating the new prosthetic technology:
And here’s a short video to remind you that you’re living in the future:
Via: Georgia Tech…