Italian researchers on Thursday unveiled a new robotic hand they say allows users to grip objects more naturally and featuring a design that will lower the price significantly.
The Hennes robotic hand has a simpler mechanical design compared with other such myoelectric prosthetics, characterized by sensors that react to electrical signals from the brain to the muscles, said researcher Lorenzo De Michieli.
The Hennes has only one motor that controls all five fingers, making it lighter, cheaper and more able to adapt to the shape of objects.
They plan to bring it to market in Europe next year with a target price of around 10,000 euros ($11,900), about 30 percent below current market prices.
About a dozen labs worldwide are working on improvements to the myoelectric prosthetic, with some focusing on touch, others on improving how the nervous system communicates with the prosthetic.
Cost remains a barrier for advanced prosthetic limbs, as well as the fact that the more complex motorized systems tend to be “heavy and fragile. They also get hard to control,” said Robert Gaunt, an assistant professor of rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh.
The Hennes design “could make a difference,” he said.