Ever wondered what life would be like with seven fingers on one hand? Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology certainly have and they’ve come up with a design for adding two extra fingers to humans that are able to assist in tasks without really needing to be programmed. Instead, they function in the same way that the human hand does, by aligning according to your hand’s movement.
The robotic augmentation, which is demonstrated in the video below, places an oversized ‘finger’ on either side of the user’s hand, with the control mechanism and the fingers themselves being mounted on the user’s wrist. The robotic implements react to the user’s hand movement by reading information from a sensor glove and rearranging themselves – using an algorithm – to be in the prime position to assist your hand’s current position.
MIT’s Ford Professor of Engineering Harry Asada said “This is a completely intuitive and natural way to move your robotic fingers. You do not need to command the robot, but simply move your fingers naturally. Then the robotic fingers react and assist your fingers.”
There are still challenges to be overcome, with the size of the mechanism used perhaps being the most immediate. But MIT’s researchers have a plan for that.
Asada said “This is a prototype, but we can shrink it down to one-third its size, and make it foldable. We could make this into a watch or a bracelet where the fingers pop up, and when the job is done, they come back into the watch. Wearable robots are a way to bring the robot closer to our daily life.”[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTJW5YSRZhw” fs=”1″]