Human-device interface making big advances

The human-machine interface has been the subject of development at least since amputation or congenital defect has been an issue.  Recent developments have now made it seem likely that recipients of, for example, prosthetic arms will gain orders of magnitude better control, sensitivity and a semblance of normal activity compared to traditional prosthetics.

A new invention from Tel Aviv University researchers may change that. Prof. Yosi Shacham-Diamand of TAU’s Department of Engineering, working with a team of European Union scientists, has successfully wired a state-of-the-art artificial hand to existing nerve endings in the stump of a severed arm. The device, called “SmartHand,” resembles — in function, sensitivity and appearance — a real hand.

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Another source of tremendous advances is the perennial inventor, Dean Kamen, whose “Luke Arm” (named for Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker, who received a lifelike prosthetic in the film) is garnering praise and is currently undergoing trials.

The science and technology of interfacing nerves with prosthetics has gained the necessary sophistication to make these devices possible. Continued advances will soon make it potentially not so obvious that a prosthetic hand is indeed prosthetic, which will be much to the satisfaction of recipients.

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