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A New Robotic Hand That Can "Feel" 112

Posted by kdawson
from the i-am-your-father dept.
Dyne09 writes "The BBC is running a video report about a group of Swiss and Italian scientists who have created the 'Smart Hand,' a robotic hand with forty sensors that 'connect directly to the brain.' Though fuzzy on the details, the report says the hand provides sensor feedback to a willing test subject, a 22-year-old man who lost his hand to cancer three years ago. How long until we have access to Star Wars-esque robotic limbs?"
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A New Robotic Hand That Can "Feel"

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  • One word (Score:5, Funny)

    by SpinyNorman (33776) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @12:25AM (#29804097)

    Telepresenceporn

    • Re:One word (Score:5, Interesting)

      by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @12:36AM (#29804153) Homepage
      If I had a robotic hand, there are certain parts of my- and other people's- bodies that I would be very reluctant to touch, squeeze or otherwise pleasure with it. It's all fine and dandy until one of the hydraulic lines breaks and someone needs a new set of genitals.
      • Re:One word (Score:5, Funny)

        by cjfs (1253208) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @12:55AM (#29804227) Homepage Journal

        And you thought buffer overflows were scary before...

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by genner (694963)

        If I had a robotic hand, there are certain parts of my- and other people's- bodies that I would be very reluctant to touch, squeeze or otherwise pleasure with it. It's all fine and dandy until one of the hydraulic lines breaks and someone needs a new set of genitals.

        That's the beauty you don't actually have to touch or squeeze the macheine provides feedback directly to the brain. It would be like phantom limb syndrome but a lot more fun.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Hal_Porter (817932)

        It's all fine and dandy until one of the hydraulic lines breaks and someone needs a new set of genitals.

        Yeah, but your new genitals will have telepresence too.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Admiral Ag (829695)

        Dude, Italian scientists helped design this. You can be sure it's grope ready.

        • by gnapster (1401889)
          Prosthesis patient: "Doctor, will I be able to grope women with my new arm?"
          Doctor: "Yes, I should think so."
          Patient: "Oh, good! They wouldn't let me with my old arm!"
      • by shentino (1139071)

        Try to visualize your goal...

      • So what you're saying is we need robotic genitals too?
      • No, it's a hand.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by jennyfever (1646303)
      Word. I can see the "adult toys" industry getting all over this one.
    • by Tablizer (95088)

      and standard commuting gestures.

    • Re:One word (Score:5, Funny)

      by EdIII (1114411) * on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @03:04AM (#29804729)

      You do realize that the vast majority of young impressionable girls you would be meeting on the Internet to have telepresenceporn sessions with, would in fact be, older perverted men.

      It's going to be dudes manipulating your junk. DUDES. Even if you go for the paid-for telepresenceporn of supposedly higher quality you will most likely still get dudes manipulating your junk. They will be outsourced foreign dudes touching your junk.

      One word - Dudes.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Hey Edlll, think you might want to take a shower and wash some of that homophobia off. What do you care if it's a dude?

        Seriously, once the touch is digital, it's gender-less. Find me a digital tongue, I don't care if it's a guy, girl, or pygmie camel is on the other end so long as that tongue moves ........ohhhh like that!

        Besides, *all* my gay friends say hj's from other gay men are superior to the ones from straight women. Something about you have to have one to know how to touch one.

        Sweet dreams!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Hal_Porter (817932)

        I always thought this scenario was what really inspired "The Turing Test".

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by amplt1337 (707922)

          Nah, Turing would not have objected to "DUDES."

          • The original Turing Test was based on The Imitation Game where people try to convince someone they are the opposite gender.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test#Alan_Turing [wikipedia.org]

            To demonstrate this approach, Turing proposes a test inspired by a party game known as the "Imitation Game," in which a man and a woman go into separate rooms, and guests try to tell them apart by writing a series of questions and reading the typewritten answers sent back. In this game, both the man and the woman aim to convince the guests that they are the other. Turing proposes recreating the game as follows:

            We now ask the question, "What will happen when a machine takes the part of A in this game?" Will the interrogator decide wrongly as often when the game is played like this as he does when the game is played between a man and a woman? These questions replace our original, "Can machines think?"

      • by shentino (1139071)

        Damn, even *I* am creeped out now...

        • by LS (57954)

          What makes you so special that you are less easily creeped out than the rest of the population? LOL

          • by PachmanP (881352)

            What makes you so special that you are less easily creeped out than the rest of the population? LOL

            He's probably Ultra-Creeped. The "*I*" thing is one of the symptoms, but many times victims don't realize they're Ultra-Creeped until it's too late.

      • by jellybear (96058)

        Don't forget to say "no homo"...

    • by Tim C (15259)

      You mean cyberdildonics (and no, I'm not going to google you a link for that, I'm at work)

  • by urIkon (1073202)

    4 years.

  • Techno Viking, meet Cyborg Viking -- Robin Af Ekenstam.

  • Now we have 17 years before Bruce Willis pulls the plug and saves us all!
  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @12:47AM (#29804195)

    ...until that old joke about the robot hand that takes direction by microphone resurfaces. I believe it ends with the line, "Bionic hand, jerk it off." The subsequent scream is, in the grammatical sense at least, silent.

  • by ridens (567558) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @12:57AM (#29804241)
    Swedish and Italian
  • This is amazing. The first thing that comes to mind is the 1987 movie, Robocop. I have to wonder what drama will be left for movies in a couple decades from now if imagination is becoming a reality.
    • by mirix (1649853)
      I suppose they'll have to make reality movies. But - now more than ever - Detroit could really benefit from robocop.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cjfs (1253208)

      I have to wonder what drama will be left for movies in a couple decades from now if imagination is becoming a reality.

      Well, I still don't have my warp drive. There's probably still a few other sources of material [wikipedia.org] out there. I think we're safe for a few thousand more years ;-).

  • So many new articles in the past weeks about new arms, legs, hearts (maybe/hopefully )etc, at what point will the concept of death change ? How much time do we have before all our parts can be replaced and we can be immortal overloads eating junk food all day.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by timmarhy (659436)
      i think it'll happen, BUT there is one massive hurdle - cell death in the brain.

      i think it's possible we will solve this in our life time if moralists and religous groups don't get in the way of good science.

      • by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @01:52AM (#29804475)

        Eventually it may be possible that the brain itself could be replaced with an artificial unit (and our conciousness "Transeferred"). At that point though I'd say that you wouldn't really have the same person left. Just a simulation of that person. Or as Dr. Bashir put it in one episode of DS9 (Star Trek had artificial brains):

        Nerys, if I remove the rest of his brain... put a machine in its place... he may look like Bareil... and he may even talk like Bareil... but it won't be Bareil. The "spark of life" will be gone. He'll be dead. And I'll be the one who killed him.

        Indeed if we ever moved to that point, there would be no need for the rest of the artificial organs. Most of that stuff serves one ultimate goal - keep the brain running. If the brain itself were powerable by electricity then it would make sense to eliminate the other inefficient biological parts and just plug the new artificial brain into a completely artificial body.

        • When we more fully understand and modify humans through genetics, etc., it will make these mechanics look like stone spears do today.

          Just imagine if we could grow a new limb with some daily therapy in only a few months; or if humans were Radiation Hardened at the cellular level from birth.

        • by timmarhy (659436)
          i guess it comes down to do you believe there is something more to us then the information stored in the brain?

          I think if you could grow a brain that was 100% identical to your original, and transfer all of the information from the original, it'd still be you.

          • by sjames (1099)

            i guess it comes down to do you believe there is something more to us then the information stored in the brain?

            Perhaps not even then. If there is a soul that runs the brain behind the scenes, perhaps it can run anything sufficiently brain-like from behind the scenes.

            Or, it'll be like the HHGTTG: "I'll know the difference!"..."No you won't, you'll be programmed not to."

        • by mOdQuArK! (87332)

          Replace a living brain neuron by neuron with a completely compatible artificial replacements. At point do you become a different person?

        • by vertinox (846076)

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus [wikipedia.org]

          I think the issue now is that the human brain is constantly having neurons dye and new ones grow.

          If you slowly replace one at a time... At what point does it cease to be the original. Actually it only takes 7 years (or so) for the process for all our cells.

          Did the person from 7 years ago die and I am a new person with their memories?

          • by MBGMorden (803437)

            Look at it alternatively though: with memory transfer (as would be required by such an electronic replacement, it would be possible to transfer your memories and thoughts to the target device and leave your brain intact. Ok, so you wake up. You stare at the mechanical version of yourself which has just been switched on. YOU still exist. The mechanical replacement in front if you has your memories and thinks as if it were you, but now being a third party observer I think it's plainly obvious that the ent

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by gknoy (899301)

              You stare at the mechanical version of yourself which has just been switched on. YOU still exist. The mechanical replacement in front if you has your memories and thinks as if it were you, but now being a third party observer I think it's plainly obvious that the entity standing in front of you is not you.

              Is it not? In the hypothetical Star Trek universe, are people no longer the same person after Transportation (in which their matter is destroyed completely and rebuilt at a different time and location)?

        • I've often joked that by the time it's my turn to die, I'll just be able to upload myself into a cyborg, and it'll be sweet, but there's gotta be some serious upheaval going along with that.

          One other idea I thought was pretty cool would be to upload myself into a self-repairing space ship and explore the universe, unhindered by long flight times.

          • by MBGMorden (803437)

            One other idea I thought was pretty cool would be to upload myself into a self-repairing space ship and explore the universe, unhindered by long flight times.

            The ever-present issue with that though is that I'm sure such a spaceship will be expensive. REALLY expensive. Even if it were technologically possible only the super-rich would be able to afford it in a Capitalist system, or in a (truly) Communist system nobody would be able to afford it.

            I think for something on that scale you'd be looking at more economic roadblocks than technological. Heck even the cyborg body might be a problem in that regard. I'd suspect that if immortality via medical means does g

        • by alexo (9335)

          Eventually it may be possible that the brain itself could be replaced with an artificial unit (and our conciousness "Transeferred").

          No, it won't be transferred, just copied. It is similar to a forked process (sorry, no car analogies this time) -- identical but not the same one.

          Of course, if you replace it by parts, and leave enough time for the rest of the brain to adapt to the change before replacing the next part, it may work (provided that the brain has redundancy mechanisms so that no memories or perso

    • by Krneki (1192201)
      <quote>So many new articles in the past weeks about new arms, legs, hearts (maybe/hopefully )etc, at what point will the concept of death change ? How much time do we have before all our parts can be replaced and we can be immortal overloads eating junk food all day.</quote>

      2030
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      We cyborgs are legion. There are people with artificial hips, knees, heart pacemakers, etc. I have an artificial lens [slashdot.org] in my left eye that sits on struts and can actually focus.

      You will be assimilated. You will beg to be assimilated. I spent a thousand dollars of my own money to be assimilated (and it was worth every penny to no longer need glasses and contacts).

  • Good.
  • by hooeezit (665120) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @01:56AM (#29804481)
    This technology is only a subset of the prosthetic arm - 'Luke' - developed by Dean Kamen's company. The prosthetic arm is controlled directly by the user's brain as well and allows a lot more complexity compared to the hand shown here. Also, Luke is being built as a modular system where you only use the parts of the arm that you need - if you don't need the upper arm, you can use just the hand and lower arm, and so forth.
    More details below:

    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2008/05/dean-kamens-rob/ [wired.com]
    http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/biomedical/bionics/dean-kamens-luke-arm-prosthesis-readies-for-clinical-trials/2 [ieee.org]
    http://blog.ted.com/2008/02/dean_kamens_arm.php [ted.com]

    PS: For those who can't place the name, Dean Kamen is the inventor of Segway, among other things.
  • by tkjtkj (577219) * <tkjtkj@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @02:01AM (#29804491)
    Cancer below the elbow or below the knee is medically unheard of ...
    • I couldn't say whether that's true or not, but it's irrelevant. People lose hands for all sorts of reasons. Like pop-bottle dry ice bombs...remember, put the cap on then run, don't try shaking it.
    • My thoughts exactly. However, I believe there have been cases of tumorous growths in association with repetitious (usually work-related) localized exposure to toxic or radioactive agents. Then again, I can think of at least one scenario where the science to replace limbs was a solution without a problem. That is until some poor schmuck walks into your office complaining about "aches in his whacking hand"...."Hmm yes , it appears you have..uh...cancer!", "Yes!, thats it, you have cancer in your right hand"..
    • Cancer below the elbow or below the knee is medically unheard of ...

      Actually there are soft tissue malignancies (epithelioid sarcoma; clear cell sarcoma; probably rare cases of Ewing's sarcoma) which have a predilection for the distal extremities. You perhaps have not heard of them because they're uncommon and haven't generated the same kind of political/public attention that other cancers have. They're also more difficult to treat, with fewer chemotherapeutic options than breast, colon or prostate cancer, so yes, sometimes amputations are necessary.

      I thought the Luke a

  • Ummm.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Does anyone know why is this story tagged as porn?
  • The future (post 2000) isn't as epic as was promised, but it is nice to see that some things they promised are actually coming through. Losing ones arms or legs will still suck but you can look forward to being able to live without needing assistance for every little thing. The tech is still in it's infancy, i'm sure that down the line the people with prosthetic limbs will be moving among us without us having a clue!
    • by Yoozer (1055188)

      The future (post 2000) isn't as epic as was promised

      It's more epic. A smartphone means more computing power in your hand than was present in an entire floor of an office building in the 70s.

      Flying cars are a stupid idea anyway.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      The future (post 2000) isn't as epic as was promised

      On the contrary, it's MORE epic than promised. There are very few things we've been "promised" by so-called "futurists" (where can I get a PhD in futurism?) that haven't happened, and many, many things sci-fi writers mentioned would be here in a couple centuries that are here now. No, no flying cars yet, but what else don't we have?

      When Star Trek came out, there were no self-opening doors, cell phones, flat screen displays, displays with straight edges, PD

      • Good post. When you think about it, all the post-y2k "letdowns" fall into two categories:

        1. Dangerous and expensive personal vehicles
        2. Tourism to insanely expensive and inhospitable locations

        What do they have in common? Danger and expense. Futurists speculating on the post-y2k era seem to have ignored two major trends:

        1. The increasing obsession with safety. Come on, this has been going on throughout the history of civilization, it's not like it snuck up on you. The only issue is that it's been g
        • by HBoar (1642149)
          Strike one off your list of letdowns: The Martin Jetpack [martinjetpack.com] is almost ready to market, and a novice can learn to fly it in no time:
    • by HiThere (15173)

      You do remember that the guy with bionic feet was forbidden to compete in the Olympics, don't you?

      Also, it's still early in the century. By the time we get to the end of it, well ... you wouldn't recognize the world.

  • ... but I'm thinking "Futurama". As in "Handcrafters - new hands in about an hour!"

    • by ezzzD55J (697465)
      From "I dated a robot"? "The Devil's hands are idle playthings" is a better match imho :) ("They're very good hands!")
  • by Anonymous Coward

    you see, Italians are always there to give an hand, when you are in need...
    then they looks strangely at you and say:

    "ya know, electronic hands broke sometime... you should pay for some protection"

    (guys, I am making jokes ok? (I am myself Italian!))

    Ciao
    ALEX

  • But can it... love?
  • by Interoperable (1651953) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @07:35AM (#29805909)
    The brain's ability to adapt to enormous change in the manner of input it's receiving is incredible. It will be very interesting to see how effectively the brain can adapt to interpreting the sensory signals from the new hand and control it. This [xkcd.com] seems like even more of a good idea now.
    • by RMH101 (636144)
      Of course the brain always impresses you! You're thinking about it with your brain, it's just bigging itself up! Sheesh!
  • Why not call this by the more accurate (and awesome) name: cybernetic.

    For some reason we forget how many cyborgs we already have living with cochlear implants, cybernetic prosthetics, bionic hearts, and more. They're cyborgs, and that's awesome. Welcome to the future!

  • But instead of hands, I want pincers and instead of arms, I want tentacles.

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