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MIT Researchers Develop Wrist-Mounted Robotic Device That Would Add Two Fingers To a Person's Hand

Update Date: Jul 21, 2014 08:13 AM EDT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a wrist-mounted robotic device that would add two fingers to a person's hand helping him/her to complete tasks like removing a bottle cap or twisting a screwdriver.

The unit dubbed "“supernumerary robotic fingers" device would enhance the human hand's natural grasping motion. The unit can be worn around the wrist providing a pair of extra, artificial digits – one next to the pinky and one next to the thumb – that automatically move in sync as the wearer moves his or her actual fingers, RedOrbit reported.

“This is a completely intuitive and natural way to move your robotic fingers,” Harry Asada, the Ford Professor of Engineering in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, said in a statement. “You do not need to command the robot, but simply move your fingers naturally. Then the robotic fingers react and assist your fingers.”

According to researchers, with some training, people would come to view the robotic fingers like an extension of their own hand.

“This is a prototype, but we can shrink it down to one-third its size, and make it foldable,” said Asada. “We could make this into a watch or a bracelet where the fingers pop up, and when the job is done, they come back into the watch. Wearable robots are a way to bring the robot closer to our daily life.”

Researchers presented the paper on the robot at last week's Robotics: Science and Systems conference in Berkeley, California.

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