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Biotech Robotics

Bionic Hands to Become a Reality Soon? 188

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the can-you-handle-it dept.
Spy der Mann writes "A highly dexterous, bio-inspired artificial hand and sensory system that could provide patients with active feeling, is being developed by a European project called cyberhand. The final prototype includes sensors for tension, force, joint angle, end stroke and contact."
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Bionic Hands to Become a Reality Soon?

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  • by PIPBoy3000 (619296) on Monday November 28, 2005 @06:34PM (#14133089)
    Steve Austin, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Vader all sue for patent infringement.
  • by fembots (753724) on Monday November 28, 2005 @06:34PM (#14133091) Homepage
    It'll be great if the sensors on these bionic hands can be switched on and off at the user's will.

    This way, the users can grab burning lottery ticket out of a fire place.
  • stroking? (Score:1, Funny)

    by Zencyde (850968)
    Sooooo...what kind of stroking can be done with these new "bionic" hands?
  • by cosinezero (833532) on Monday November 28, 2005 @06:35PM (#14133097)
    Finally, a return to two-handed typing...
    • Actually, I was thinking the same thing, and it's not a joke in my case. But really, I don't need a new hand, I just need to somehow fix what's left of my right hand.
    • Thats what you think!
      The porn industry will have a new advertising initiative called 'lend a hand' for their newest product 'Ms Palmer' that will put a new spin on 'digit'-al entertainment :)
    • Shit- why stop there. I could really cook it I have four hands to type.
    • If they have figured out a good way to interface with the nervous system, why complicate things by having a hand between the brain and the code? Imagine the typing speed with a USB cord plugged straight into the arm instead.
      • Re:Hands check! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dgatwood (11270)
        I could use a third hand on many occasions. Imagine being able to hold a soldering gun, the object to be soldered, and the solder all at the same time.... On occasion, a fourth would be handy (no pun intended) when soldering two things together.

        I probably grumble about wanting a third arm/hand at least twice a week. Of course, I would assume that at least right now, this just ties into the existing nervous system in your arm, which would make it less than useful for adding an additional appendage. Tha

    • Was thinking: I have two normal arms and hands now, but could I attach another set of bionic arms and hands?

      How about bionic tentacles? Like 4 metal bionic tentacles attached...I don't know...to my spinal cord somehow. Would that be possible? Make them really strong too, and extendable.

      Yeah...that's the ticket! Then I will make them pay! Oh yes, I will make them ALL pay! MWHAHAHAHA! Laugh at me now will you!
    • Finally, a return to two-handed typing..

      If you're referring to porn sites you'll need a third arm as well.

  • Next time you're out and about and some guy named Biff smacks you with a bionic arm implant, don't say Sarlos didn't warn you.
  • by Arthur B. (806360) on Monday November 28, 2005 @06:37PM (#14133112)
    Just make a mouse or a keyboard... I'd trade a hand for a direct link to a computer.
  • by southpolesammy (150094) on Monday November 28, 2005 @06:37PM (#14133115) Journal
    "You're on in 5...4...3..."
  • by RealisticCanadian (850967) on Monday November 28, 2005 @06:38PM (#14133128) Journal
    So, while this stuff is very kewl, and in particular I've been following development on artificial hands (as far as I know, only the face is more complex), it raises in me the question of what it will bring with it in the near future....

    Cybernetic implants are under development as well, including the borg-like communications chip that most of us would have seen on 'How William Shatner changed the Universe'

    So on top of all the typical moral concerns this subject raises, in the days when we're as much technology as human being, what will be the complications when our complex implants' OS gives us the equivalent of the BSOD?
    • what will be the complications when our complex implants' OS gives us the equivalent of the BSOD?

      Not to worry. It's still a long way off. Microsoft won't release the first beta of "Windows for Prosthetics" for at least a decade or two. It'll probably take a minimum of 5 years before this technology is ready for prime-time, then another 5 years before bionic prosthetic use reaches a critical mass to even get on MS's radar screen. After that it's another 5+ years of all the marketing, vaporware hype, pres
    • If you watch Dr. Strangelove , I believe you'll get a pretty good picture of what happens during a BSOD. You don't need the whole movie, just the scenes in the War Room as Dr. Strangelove describes the Doomsday Device.

      As for what a Borg BSOD looks like, I haven't the foggiest. If we're lucky, it'll be like a Greatful Dead Concert (lots of people staring and going "oh wow"), but without the scent of Patchouli oil in the air.
    • "So on top of all the typical moral concerns this subject raises"

      I don't have any moral concerns about this technology or others like it. All I feel when I see research like this is hope.

      Growing up I watched my father struggle with activities that most of us take for granted. I am not just referring to walking and picking things up, but breathing and being able to get out of bed to see his children growing up. You see, he was in the last wave of people who had Polio before the vaccine was developed and r
    • "So on top of all the typical moral concerns this subject raises, in the days when we're as much technology as human being, what will be the complications when our complex implants' OS gives us the equivalent of the BSOD?"

      Doesn't that acronym kind of answer your own question?

  • no jokes! (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Surt (22457)
    About the adjustable end stroke please!
  • by aborlancop1 (934263) on Monday November 28, 2005 @06:41PM (#14133151)
    According to Popular Science, there's already a mind-controlled bionic arm out. It allows for better movement than previous prosthetic limbs as well.

    http://www.popsci.com/popsci/bown2005/personalheal th/19e6ee82ea447010vgnvcm1000004eecbccdrcrd.html [popsci.com]

    "Welcome to the future of prosthetic limbs: true mind control. For the first time ever, an amputee need only think about a movement--picking up a glass, for instance--and the 12-pound Neuro-Controlled Bionic Arm dutifully coordinates the task. Electrodes intercept the limb's residual nerve firings and feed them to a computer embedded in the forearm, which then commands six motors to move the device's shoulder, elbow and hand in unison. Thanks to hand sensors, the wearer can even gauge pressure and fine-tune his grip.

    For now, the prototype arm fits just one man, Jesse Sullivan. This year, Sullivan demonstrated the device at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where doctors are working to refine it. A faster, more durable commercial version should be ready by 2008, but the ultimate goal is a robotic limb that functions as well as, if not better than, its human analogue."

    It isn't as good as an arm that allows for feeling, but hey, think of what happens when a bionic arm that allows you to feel has an error. Ouchies.
    • what happens when a bionic arm that allows you to feel has an error.
      What happens if you have a phantom limb where a bionic arm gets put in place? Will you feel pain in the artificial arm?
      • First, about the phantom limb. A phantom limb is the sensation post amputation that the limb is really there. This is due to the fact that there are nerves which have been completely obliterated at their end points and have atrophied. Because these neurons tell the brain where the limb is, there is a position of the limb which is associated with the neurons not firing at all. The brain can become confused as it tries to sort out that the missing postural sensors are telling them something completely dif
    • It isn't as good as an arm that allows for feeling, but hey, think of what happens when a bionic arm that allows you to feel has an error. Ouchies.

      Presumably there's some limitation in design the human-machine interface- the actual parts that stimulate the nerve endings to make them think they're feeling something- which would preclude them from generating any exceedingly intense pain.

  • Sounds like a pr0no I rented once......
  • by abscondment (672321) on Monday November 28, 2005 @06:43PM (#14133176) Homepage

    From the website:

    1. be felt by an amputee as the lost natural limb delivering her/him a natural sensory feedback by means of the stimulation of some specific afferent nerves;
    2. be controlled in a very natural way by processing the efferent neural signals coming from the central nervous system (reducing the discomfort of the current EMG-based control prosthesis);
    3. be endorsed by the Darth Vader foundation trust;
    4. be accessible to supervillians everywhere.
  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedyNO@SPAMtpno-co.org> on Monday November 28, 2005 @06:44PM (#14133180) Homepage
    The final prototype includes sensors for tension, force, joint angle, end stroke and contact."

    bwa hahahahhaah
  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday November 28, 2005 @06:45PM (#14133191) Homepage Journal
    What is the size of the market for people who need a new hand? I'm intrigued for seeing deeper into the business plan here.

    Are there profitable products that can be extended from this one? Maybe cybernetics for the non-handicapped in controlling machinery or possibly military purposes?

    I'm not saying that there shouldn't be research for the handicapped, I'm just trying to see how a corporation justifiesthe expenses.

    Or is this a government-funded (theft) product? If so, I'll say it is a waste.
    • by MrTester (860336) on Monday November 28, 2005 @06:58PM (#14133292)
      If you look at history you will find that war time always sees a boon in prosthetic and other medical technologies. We are getting a LOT of soldiers coming home with missing and damaged limbs, so there is a surge in trial patients, funding and general interest. Granted this is comming from Germany, not the US.... Doctor StrangeLove anyone?
    • I'd give my right arm for something like that!
    • What is the size of the market for people who need a new hand?
      It is probably the size of the existing market for prosthetic hands.

      Are there profitable products that can be extended from this one?
      Other prosthetic devices and limbs would probably be a good place to start.

      Maybe cybernetics for the non-handicapped in controlling machinery or possibly military purposes?
      It is worth looking into. But because these devices work by interacting with an individuals nerves/nervous system, I suspect that creating such
      • Next time you get in a wreck and the police have to close the road that the government built and the paramedics have to come because someone dialed the government-run 911 service, I'll call it a waste too.

        Just because something isn't useful for you doesn't mean its a waste, you stupid fuck.
    • I'm just trying to see how a corporation justifies the expenses.

      We're talking about very high value stuff here. I'm sure the whole of the market is willing to pay thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars for these things, and insurance might cover them in some cases (although that may be a long shot).

      From this FAQ [amputee-coalition.org]: There were 1,285,000 persons in the U.S. living with the limb loss (excluding fingers and toes) in 1996.

      And of course, this is an international market -- extending beyond the US.

      I
      • Awesome data, thanks.

        I couldn't RTA or google as my PDA wasn't getting DNS except what was cached.
      • Considering the cost of fake legs, I'd tend to say that $10,000-100,000 would be a closer aproximation as to the cost.

        Think about it, would you sink the cost of a car into getting a hand if you've lost one?

        As far as the war goes, well, it's generating attention, but the actual amount of amputations is a low fraction of those caused by diabetes alone in this country. Industrial accidents also play a role.

        Now, yes, military wounded to tend to get the better limbs. This is both because the government can aff
    • Someone else mentioned this, but these are very high ticket items. Each one could probably go for $10-20k, if not more, just for the prosthesis. When mass produced, they're probably $1k to produce, so that's a pretty hefty profit that goes directly to the company selling it (there wouldn't be a middleman on this stuff since it's all "wholesale"). Batteries? Repairs and upgrades? Lots of money to be made. Also, patients would save up cash to make this investment themselves if their insurance wouldn't p
      • Each one could probably go for $10-20k, if not more, just for the prosthesis. When mass produced, they're probably $1k to produce, so that's a pretty hefty profit that goes directly to the company selling it

        Given the very same reasons that you mention, $1k is likely to be the starting point for the basic materials.

        since each of these would require individualization to the customer (since everyone's amputation is different)

        Every hand is going to be essentially custom built. Beyond the exact point of amputat
    • What is the size of the market for people who need a new hand?

      Oh come on, there are plenty of secondhand shops.

  • After all, there are several Italians on the project.

    (don't worry, I'll handle this myself: boooooo!)
  • Uh oh, we all know what this means: the LARPers can start in on Cyberpunk and Shadowrun.
  • by hkb (777908) on Monday November 28, 2005 @06:53PM (#14133255)
    if( hand.Contents() ~= tubular && hand.Contents() == flesh)
    {
          strength = strength /10;
    }
  • but (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 28, 2005 @06:53PM (#14133256)
    does it run linux? can it play ogg?
  • ...Who is this Martin Fink I'm hearing so much about?
  • by hkb (777908) on Monday November 28, 2005 @06:55PM (#14133273)
    "Wow, it really DOES feel like a stranger!"
  • by avalys (221114) on Monday November 28, 2005 @06:58PM (#14133294)
    Being technically able to produce one of these things is all well and good, but the real question is how long it will be before they cost less than $100,000.
  • Woo bionic hands... where is my neural jacks!
  • Bionic eyes? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ichigo 2.0 (900288) on Monday November 28, 2005 @07:00PM (#14133310)
    Wonder how long till someone develops bionic eyes? I've been itching to ditch these failing organic meatballs called eyes for something better. High-def bionic eyes with zoom and night-vision would be pretty cool, not to mention the possibility of using them as a way to overlay information on top of stuff you see. Getting spyware could be quite annoying though, and if law enforcement had a way of remotely disabling them would suck, but maybe one could avoid that by running OS software on them. :)
    • by ajlitt (19055)
      We already have zoom. It involves moving either your eye closer to the object or the object closer to your eye. Try it. It's amazing!
      • Wow, you're right, it works! I even came up with a way to automate it, just install rails on the sides of your head and put the object on them, with the help of a electric motor zooming in and out can be as easy as breathing! It gets a bit difficult when you want to zoom at an object far away though, when I installed longer rails I wasn't able to turn my head any more! But I think I have it sorted out now by using a tripod to support my head. Now I just need to file for a patent, now where did I put that fo
      • Obligatory Red Dwarf quote?

        (from memory)
        Kryten (as human): "I can't seem to activate my 'zoom' function. How can I bring a distant object into sharp focus?"
        Lister: "Uh. You just move your head closer to the object."
        Kryten: "What about other optical effects? Slow-motion? Split-screen? Quantel?"
    • Getting spyware could be quite annoying though
      Not half as annoying as spam would be. Imagine a constant ad for enlargment products continuously scrolling right at the edge of your peripheral vision. In Russian. Blinking. No spyware in the world could be as annoying as that.

      (*runs off to the patent office*) :)
  • by HunterZ (20035)
    For some reason I thought of Red Dwarf instead of Star Wars when I saw this article...

    "Hand, pick up the ball!"
  • A hand that won't get tired? My girlfriend will love this. And by "girlfriend," I mean myself. With three hand I'll be able to pleasure myself *and* post foul comments on Slashdot. W00t!
  • Yeah but does it run linux?

    Imagine a beowulf cluster of these!

    In Soviet Russia, hand grabs you!

    Hey, I'm a bionic man you insensitive clod!
  • So next time you grab ass, in your defense just remember your bionic hand has a mind of it's own...
  • Actually, I've been watching too much Ghost in the Shell - Stand Alone Complex [wikipedia.org], but if we have full (at least prototype) cyborg bodies by 2015 whe should be keeping up to the stories time line. Although, the Major should be in her 25-30ish and according to the plot line she had her cyborg body around age 9 which would be any day now.
  • How could they possibly (correctly) reconnect all the nerve endings?
    • Re:Nerve Endings? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by c_fel (927677)
      Actually they can use the nerves that usally fit the best for the movements needed. But anyway, it doesn't have to be the exact same nerve : it's sure that a full reeducation is necessary. First, the feelings won't be the same as the ones the patient is used to. Second, the arm won't react exactly like a true arm.

      But the brain is very capable to learn how to manipulate the new arm : it just takes minutes to actually "see" an image with an electrode on the tongue, with eyes shut (with the electrode connec
  • Bionic power supply (Score:2, Interesting)

    by netrangerrr (455862)
    In the 6 Million Dollar Man, the bionic implants used a small nuclear power supply - in one episode it had to be replaced. How do you supply power for any kind of extended operation for a bionic hand? It seems that like many mobile/implantable technologies, the ability to provide an extended power source is lagging. The batteries for a 24 hour operating capability probably weigh several times more than all of the electronics, sensors, and electro-elastic polymer "motors".
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I suspect it'll be quite a while before we can provide "natural" sensation from a prosthesis.

    I have my own nerve endings in my "repaired" thumbtip, and while 7 years have helped my mind remap what was the center of my thumb to useful tip-of-the-thumb sensations, it still feels strange every single time I touch something. Pressure sensations are the strangest.

    How much harder must it be to try to tap into nerve endings further up the arm and get you to make sense of them?

    BTW: watch what you're doing with your
  • Since the /. editors altered the original link, here's the one i provided:

    http://physorg.com/news8527.html [physorg.com]

    Hope that's not slashdotted now.
    (And no, don't use coral caché on this, let's get even at their annoying ads ;-) )
  • I want a third arm installed for skiboxing. The second head can wait until I need to try one of those neural implants.
  • by rayde (738949)
    i've already got one [theculturalgutter.com].
  • Slashdotters are the perfect test market for bionic hands. Say hello to Rosy the Robotic Palm and Her Five Bionic Sisters. If they can't wear it out from repetitive motion, no one else will. Ooh, what a shocker! [rotten.com]
  • Heat concerns. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShadowBlasko (597519) <shadowblasko@gma i l . com> on Monday November 28, 2005 @07:55PM (#14133775) Homepage
    As I know someone with partially servo controlled limb, I occasionally get to read some of the literature that is targeted towards people who need such devices. Something that seems to be a constant concern is heat dissapation.

    The loss of a hand is a tremendous blow to the bodies ability to cool itself, and the addition of anything that creates additional heat is usually considered to be non-starter.

    As I am unable to read the article from here I can not see if that is addressed within, but I am curious as to if there were any comments regarding it.
    • Re:Heat concerns. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by timbo234 (833667)

      The loss of a hand is a tremendous blow to the bodies ability to cool itself, and the addition of anything that creates additional heat is usually considered to be non-starter.


      I don't understand - how does the loss of a relatively small body part like the hand (or even a whole limb) wreck the body's cooling system?
    • Attach a lot of heat-pipes and fins to yourself? Maybe with blood as the coolant fluid?

      Would look cool as hell, if a bit impractical.

      On the other hand (heh), you could crank up the cooling for energy dissipation as a path to body fat reduction.
  • I least I know I'm looking forward to a robotically enhanced "end stroke."
  • The sensors aspect is wiz bang but the articulation is an old puppetry idea...

    "Each of the five fingers is articulated and has one motor dedicated to its joint flexing for autonomous control. It features an opposable thumb, so the device can perform different grasping actions.

    Taking inspiration from the real hand, where a muscle pulls a tendon inside a synovial sheath, CYBERHAND's finger cables run through a Teflon sheath pulled by a DC motor.

    I made something like this in the late 80s when I did FX. I in tu
  • We didn't make your flesh hand, we made your bionic hand better.
  • This is awsome. It'll be even better when they figure out how to attach these to people who already have two working hands.

    Dibs on the name "Doctor Octopus".

    --- SER

"Success covers a multitude of blunders." -- George Bernard Shaw

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