Giving brain power a hand
21. okt 2005 00:00
Modern technology can give a hand to people who have lost a hand. Researchers at the University of Oslo are now making an artificial hand that can be controlled directly by the brain.
Norwegian researchers have made the first finger for the robot hand. The prosthetic hand is actually controlled by the brain. PHOTO: BENT ARE IVERSEN/SCANPIX
The artificial hand is linked into the body's nervous system, allowing signals from the brain to control the hand. The artificial hand is supposed to be able to turn and move just like a real hand.
Sophisticated, but light
Although the hand will be sophisticated, it will weigh no more than an ordinary hand. It will not consist of any heavy motors or cogwheels, but rather of super thin artificial muscles. The artificial muscles will contract in response to electrical signals.
To make the hand as sensitive as possible, the fingers are covered with teeny tiny sensors. The sensing units recognise both temperature and pressure. They will enable the user to pick up an egg with a grip just hard enough so the egg will not drop or be crushed.
The researchers assume that nerves differ from person to person. This means the artificial hand must be specially adapted for each individual. To maximise the functions of the hand for the physically challenged, the hand has to be intelligent, meaning it will learn from its mistakes and keep improving continuously.
Translation: Linda Sivesind
*Published in 'Nysgjerrigper' no. 3/05*
Last modified: 21.10.2005