Bionic hands have been around for several years now, but bionic fingers enabling a sense of touch are new. For the first time a bionic finger has enabled a person to tell the difference between rough and smooth surfaces with 96% accuracy.
The touch ability has been developed by Silvestro Micera from EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), NCCR Robotics, and Calogero Oddo at SSSA (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna) along with others.
First tested on four normal subjects with all their fingers, these subjects had a 77% accuracy rate. The test was conducted by placing temporary needles on the subjects arms to stimulate their nerves.
The next test subject was an actual amputee. This test achieved by implanting electrodes in the subject’s arm that were connected to the bionic finger. The subject as able to distinguish between rough and smooth textures with 96% accuracy.
For all the details, see the paper released this week http://elifesciences.org/content/5/e09148v2.
Photo from alexpb on flickr