A 3D-printed robotic hand has been developed that can be controlled by the brain. To test their creation, the game “rock, paper or scissors” has served a team of the Biological Systems Engineering Laboratory of the University of Hiroshima to demonstrate to the world that their project works. Anyone who lends him or herself as a human guinea pig has a robotic plastic hand printed in 3D attached to his or her body and should only imagine the simple positions: a fist to represent a rock, two fingers open in “V” to simulate a scissor or the hand completely open to show a sheet of paper. Each of them is reproduced by hand instantly: “The robotic hand is like a part of your body and you can control it as you want. We will combine technology in such a way that it is like a complete human being,“ explains Professor Toshio Tsuji, involved in the project.
But how do they get this effect? They achieve this thanks to electrodes integrated into the prosthetic equipment that measure the electrical signals of the nerves of the body through the skin, in a way very similar to how an electrocardiogram detects the heart rate of a human being. These signals are sent to the computer, which in a tiny margin of 5 milliseconds translates it into a movement. Subsequently, it is the computer that sends the signals back to the hand engines that reproduce it. To achieve this precision, this neural network (known under the name of Cybernetic Interface) had to be previously trained with each of these movements, so that it knew how to move each of the 5 fingers and combine them naturally to achieve exact forecast, not only to play hand games,
In order to achieve the highest precision, 7 participants have been used who have been part of the Robotics Rehabilitation Center of the Hyogo Assistance Institute (Kobe). They were asked to perform a variety of tasks with the hand that simulated daily life, such as picking up small items or clenching their fists. The precision of the prosthetic movements of the hands measured in the study for a single simple movement was greater than 95% and the complicated and unlearned movements was 93%. Of course, not everyone is able to achieve such a satisfactory margin, so they hope to improve the training of those who join their new progress.
The most important thing is that the project is one of the cheapest developed to date, since usually, these robotic hands are made of metal, but for the first time they have done it in plastic with 3D printing, which would still cheaper plus the access of amputees to this type of technology.