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Fresh From MIT: Wearable Robot Upgrades Human Hands By Adding Two Robotic Fingers

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A wearable robot being made by MIT researchers gives two extra robotic fingers to the human hands

A wearable robot being made by MIT researchers gives two extra robotic fingers to the human hands

The five-fingered human hand is so 2013; it desperately needs an upgrade – that is what a new project from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is seemingly trying to accomplish. A wearable robot donned on the wrist that includes two robotic fingers are currently being developed by a team in MIT that aims to assist in various human tasks.

MIT researchers are developing a wearable robot that augments our hand?s grasping motion. The high tech device works fundamentally like two additional digits next to the thumb and the little finger. An innovative control algorithm makes it possible for the robotic fingers to move synchronously with the person?s hands and fingers to grasp and get hold of objects in varying sizes and shapes.

MIT?s Ford Professor of Engineering, Harry Asada, has this to say about the wearable robot, “Every day, we use various tools, say a knife and fork and we drive a car and, if we use these tools for a long time, you see that those tools are just an extension of your body. That is exactly what we would like to do with robotics, you have extra fingers and extra arms. If you have control and can communicate with them very well, you feel that they are just an extension of your body.? Aside from that statement, their team also posted a Youtube video (shown below) to exhibit what they have done.

In order to come up with the control algorithm, the MIT research team carefully studied the physiology and movement of the human hand. They discovered that all gripping gestures and movements are, in essence, a collaboration of bringing all fingers together and twisting them in an inward motion. The team reasoned that this mechanism can easily be mimicked by seven fingers just as well as by the existing five. However, they also found out that there?s a little difference on how each person grips things. So each of those wearable robot units needs to be trained to copy the wearer?s grip and hand movement.

Professor Asada and his graduate student Faye Wu presented a paper about the wearable robot at this week?s Robotics: Science and Systems Conference held in Berkeley, CA. For now, all the device can do is mimic finger movements including spreading apart and closing in. But Wu said that they are planning bigger things for the device and goes on to say, ?There are other things that make a good, stable grasp. With an object that looks small but is heavy, or is slippery, the posture would be the same, but the force would be different, so how would it adapt to that? That?s the next thing we?ll look at.?

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Photo Credit: Youtube.com/MIT

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