From Sweden, Chalmers University unveils a surgical feat, granting individual control over each finger of a bionic hand, made possible by innovative surgical procedures and AI algorithms. Meanwhile, Italian start-up BionIT Labs impresses with ‘Adam’s Hand’, a fully adaptive bionic hand that molds itself to the shape and size of objects it grasps. Lastly, a student-led team from UPC’s Barcelona School of Industrial Engineering presents a low-cost, 3D-printed prosthesis, ARM2u, which responds to nerve impulses. These trailblazing innovations, combining surgical precision, intelligent design, and 3D printing technology, herald a new global era of possibilities for amputees.
- Breakthrough research by Chalmers University enables people with arm amputation to control each finger of a bionic hand exactly as if it were their own.
- BionIT Labs’ bionic hand adapts itself to the user and the object one’s grasping.
- 3D printing is making robotic arms cheaper and more functional.
Revolutionary surgical and AI innovation
Chalmers University in Sweden has made a significant prosthetic leap, merging human anatomy with state-of-the-art technology in a pioneering bionic hand. This breakthrough is the first of its kind, enabling an individual with an arm amputation to control each finger of a bionic hand exactly as if it were their own.
The innovation was made possible by a surgical operation that reconfigures the residual limb, integrating sensors and a skeletal implant. This process allows the bionic hand to access more information, thereby enabling the user to command multiple robotic joints. The surgical procedure was performed by a team led by Professor Max Ortiz Catalan and Dr. Rickard Brånemark at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden.
Adaptive bionic hand
Italian start-up BionIT Labs has made headlines with their innovative bionic hand, named ‘Adam’s Hand’. Unlike conventional prostheses, Adam’s Hand is a fully adaptive prosthesis that eliminates the need to choose between grip patterns.
Made of steel and techno-polymers, the fingers of the hand conform to the shape and size of the object they hold. The hand is equipped with two engines that control the thumb and the four fingers, ensuring seamless movement. Notably, the hand is integrated with an app that uses an algorithm to calibrate the device based on the user’s muscular tone. This technological marvel was conceptualized by Giovanni Zappatore and his university mates, marking the beginning of BionIT Labs.
ARM2u: the low-cost, 3D printed prosthesis
From the Barcelona School of Industrial Engineering, a student-led biomedical engineering team has developed ARM2u, a low-cost, 3D-printed prosthesis. This innovative and affordable transradial prosthesis is designed to respond to the user’s nerve impulses through myoelectric control, allowing for hand pronosupination and opening/closing movements.
ARM2u, made from PLA plastic, is a more accessible option due to its low production cost. The team aims to enhance the prototype with AI techniques for better adaptability and are working on incorporating a functional hand with fingers into the design. The ARM2u team plans to represent Spain in the 2024 Cybathlon competition, an event where individuals with physical disabilities test advanced prostheses developed by global research teams.
Enabling a brighter future for amputees
These advancements in prosthetic technology are providing new hope and possibilities for people with amputations worldwide. The multidisciplinary collaboration between surgeons, engineers, and AI specialists has resulted in remarkable innovations, offering unprecedented control, adaptive design, and affordability.
While these breakthroughs are significant, the journey to refine and enhance these innovations continues. It is the hope of the teams at Chalmers University, BionIT Labs, and UPC’s Barcelona School that their efforts will continue to improve the lives of amputees globally, making daily tasks more manageable and offering newfound independence.