Researchers are developing a sense of touch, at least, a sense of touch for robotic machinery.A group of 13 researchers are working on an international project to develop an artificial finger with a sense of touch.
The finger would be directly connected to the nervous system, the researchers said. It would contain sensors on its surface in the same numbers as our fingers do.
The sensors translate pressure and mechanical movement into an electronic code. This would then decoded by the wearers brain, once they were trained to interpret the signals.
“Compared to the hand prostheses which are currently on the market, an integrated sense of touch would be a major improvement. It would be a truly modern and biometric device which would give the patient the feeling as if it belonged to his own body,” says Dr. Lucia Beccai from the Centre for Micro-Robotics at the Italian Institute for Technology.
The finger would be important for people who have lost fingers or hands. The prototype they are currently testing can tell the difference between surfaces and textures — it can accurately detect about 90 per cent of surfaces.
It could also be used during robotic surgery, to get an accurate feeling of a remote patient. “The sensors are working very much like the sensors are doing on your own finger,” says physicist Dr. Michael Ward from the School of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Birmingham.
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