The brainiacs at MIT are at it again. Their latest invention? A lightweight, low-cost inflatable hand that provides sensory feedback and equips users to to zip a suitcase, write with a pen, pour juice from a carton, and perform other everyday tasks. It consists of a 3D-printed hand a five balloon-like fingers, with a pneumatic pump that circulates air through the digits to achieve specific grips. You control it with regular muscle signals, which are detected by myoelectric sensors and translated into commands via an AI algorithm. It’s basically a featherweight version of your typical robotic hand, sans the clunky metal skeleton and motors. Engineering professor Xuanhe Zhao, the research lead on the project, says: “The performance is already similar or superior to existing neuroprosthetics, which we’re excited about. There’s huge potential to make this soft prosthetic very low cost, for low-income families who have suffered from amputation.” Full story at MIT News. The accompanying research paper is online at Nature Biomedical Engineering.
Here’s what else we’re reading this week:
One of our Instagram faves, @that_guy_with_one_leg, is out with his latest stunt. It features scythes, skateboards, juggling, water-chugging, and a spectacular finale featuring his trademark machete leg and a can of Liquid Death.
Here’s the story of Sturgis VIP Matt Hoffman, an AK amputee who’s got a Harley medallion embedded in his prosthetic knee and a socket festooned with Hendrix and Grateful Dead imagery. It’s his first trip to Sturgis since the accident that cost him his limb six years ago.
Fast Company has the story of Atom Limbs, whose flashy mind-controlled prosthetic arm is on track to hit the consumer market in 2023.
Horse gets prosthetic leg: Some horse lovers in India crowd-sourced 20,000 rupees (about $300) to buy a prosthesis for Manjari, a year-and-a-half-old filly who lost her left rear leg in an accident. So far, so good: Manjari has walked and trotted on the limb since trying it on four days ago.
Horse needs prosthetic leg: A farm family in Massachusetts is trying to raise $25,000 to save Willis, a beloved 13-year-old horse who can no longer walk because of a degenerative bone disease. He needs amputation and a prosthetic fitting to regain his mobility.
Engineers in Singapore are working on smart foam, an artificially innervated polymer that conveys sensation and can self-repair, much like your skin. The designers hope the spongy, stretchy material will find its way into products such as the Hero Arm.
And speaking of the Hero Arm: Open Bionics has opened its first clinic in the UK to deliver hands-on prosthetic care for wearers of its prosthetic arm.