Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Hand

iRobot tests the durability of its new robot hand by smashing it with a baseball bat

Not even a baseball bat can damage the fingers of a new robotic hand developed by iRobot for the DARPA Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program. The four-year program, which began in 2010, seeks to build and program a robot capable of handling all kinds of things on the battlefield with minimal human input. Most robot hands have rigid components which tend to be quite fragile, but this hand has rubbery fingers, which are better able to absorb impacts.  Read More

Mouse grip pattern

Nigel Ackland could be mistaken for a cyborg. He has a high-tech robotic hand that looks like it started life as a Formula 1 car and its movements are alarmingly lifelike. It’s called the “bebonic3” and is the latest version of bebonic series of artificial hands produced by RSLSteeper of Leeds, UK. The myoelectric hand has been under development for a couple of years now, but the bebonic3 is moving prosthetic limbs from Captain Hook to Luke Skywalker territory.  Read More

In addition to offering the convenience of typing one-handed, Gauntlet could enable people...

The QWERTY computer keyboard has proved to be a versatile design over the years, and whether you’re typing on an iPhone screen, or the chiclet keys prevalent on modern laptops, the experience is largely the same. However, typical keyboards aren’t generally all that easy to use one-handed or while walking, for example. For those kind of situations you may be better served with a glove called Gauntlet, which features a built-in one handed keyboard.  Read More

The Digits system can detect hand movements without external infrastructure

As evidenced by the Kinect system, Microsoft has a serious dedication to making user interfaces that track the movement of its users. The company has shown a new technology, which it is calling Digits, that tracks hand movements through a device worn on a user's wrist. This means there are no gloves needed.  Read More

Emma's custom 'magic arms' were created using 3D printing technology

A two year old girl born with arthrogryposis, a congenital disease that left her unable to lift her own arms, although able to walk, has been given a new lease on life by a 3D printed robotic exoskeleton, enabling her to move freely for the very first time. The exoskeleton, made of a similar material to Lego, was manufactured using a Stratasys Dimension 3D printer so as to create a prosthetic light enough for young Emma to continue walking around freely.  Read More

The robotic hand developed by European researchers that uses artificial tendons consisting...

While the quest for robotic grippers with a light, yet firm touch has led to innovative approaches, such as the universal jamming gripper, it’s still hard to go past the four fingers and opposable thumb form factor honed by millions of years of evolution. While the technology is available to create a robotic hand that is both powerful and delicate, cramming it inside a compact arm is still difficult. But European researchers have done just that by using a novel string actuator to act as an artificial tendon.  Read More

Researchers are developing a system that would allow surgeons to control both computers an...

Although surgeons need to frequently review medical images and records during surgery, they’re also in the difficult position of not being able to touch non-sterile objects such as keyboards, computer mice or touchscreens. Stepping away from the operating table to check a computer also adds time to a procedure. Researchers from Indiana’s Purdue University are addressing this situation by developing gesture-recognition systems for computers, so that surgeons can navigate through and manipulate screen content simply by moving their hands in the air. The system could additionally be used with robotic scrub nurses, also being developed at Purdue, to let the devices know what instruments the surgeon wants handed to them.  Read More

The universal gripper writing with a pen (Image: John Amend, Cornell University)

While creating robotic grippers to pick up objects that are all the same shape and consistency is relatively easy, difficulties arise when trying to create one versatile enough to handle a wider variety of objects. The flexibility of the human hand has led many robotics researchers to borrow the familiar four finger and opposable thumb template that has served us so well, but getting the robotic hand to exert enough force to grip a variety of objects without breaking the more fragile ones is still a difficult task. For this reason a team of researchers has bypassed the traditional human hand and fingers design to create a versatile gripper using everyday coffee grounds and a latex party balloon.  Read More

The Amadeo Robotic Hand and Tibion Robotic Leg are helping to rehabilitate stroke victims

It's a long time since The Six Million Dollar Man graced our TV screens; indeed, many Gizmag readers may be too young to have heard of Steve Austin, the Bionic Man. Bionics and robotics have come a long way in the past few years, and while we're not yet creating bionic men and women, we can at least claim to make people "better, stronger, and faster." A robotic hand and bionic leg undergoing clinical trials at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center are two promising neurorehabilitation devices that are helping stroke survivors regain movement in affected limbs by rewiring neural pathways.  Read More

The bebionic myo-electric hand

Luke Skywalker/Steve Austin-like bionic hands might seem like something straight out of... well, science fiction, but they’re most definitely not. There are now actually several companies competing to sell hands that can perform complex, independent-fingered tasks, and that can even return a sense of touch to the amputee user. In the recent past, we’ve told you about several of these devices, including the iLimb, the SmartHand, and the CYBERHAND. Recently, British company RSLSteeper officially threw its hat (or glove?) into the ring, with the unveiling of its bebionic myo-electric hand.  Read More

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