MIT Inflatable Robotic Hand
MIT and Shanghai Jiao Tong University researchers have developed a soft, lightweight neuroprosthetic hand with a much lower price tag than most. Amputees who tested this artificial limb were able to successfully perform daily activities, like zipping a suitcase, pouring juice from a carton, and petting an animal. The components used for this hand cost approximately $500, while weighing a fraction of more rigid smart prosthetics. Read more for a video and additional information.

Think of this robotic hand as similar to the robot from “Big Hero 6”, as instead of controlling each finger using mounted electrical motors, a simple pneumatic system was employed that precisely inflates the fingers and bend them in specific positions. This system consists of a small pump and valves users can wear at the waist, thus greatly reducing the prosthetic’s weight.

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We now have four grasp types. There can be more. This design can be improved, with better decoding technology, higher-density myoelectric arrays, and a more compact pump that could be worn on the wrist. We also want to customize the design for mass production, so we can translate soft robotic technology to benefit society,” said Xuanhe Zhao, professor of mechanical engineering and of civil and environmental engineering at MIT.

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