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UCL engineers and medical scientists combine to develop haptic feedback for prosthetic hands

10 May 2017

A group of UCL experts have teamed up to create 'haptic feedback' - touch feedback similar to the technology in modern smartphones - for 3D printed body-powered prosthetic hands. An initial prototype of the new hand has been 3D printed which is going to be exhibited at the Science Museum’s Robots Lates event on 31 May and at Techxlr8, part of London Tech Week, from 12-16 June.

The team, led by Dr Helge Wurdemann, head of the Soft Haptics Lab in the UCL Department of Mechanical Engineering, was awarded almost £4000 in a Grand Challenge of Global Health small grant, which kick-started this work.

Haptic feedback for low-cost body-powered prosthetic hands

Haptic feedback for low-cost body-powered prosthetic hands

This diagram shows how the sensors work

Dr Helge Wurdemann, Andrea Palombi (PhD student) and Prof. Shervanthi Homer-Vanniasinkam (Professor of Engineering and Surgery) are working with plastic and hand surgeons Dr Joseph Hardwicke and Dr Matthew Venus from the University of Warwick and the organisation LimbForgeTM to improve the prototype, which now includes soft sensors and a feedback system. The hope is that this technology could be an affordable, accessible, and appropriate haptic feedback solution for people who have lost fingers or hands, to give them feeling in their hands again.

Dr Wurdemann hopes that the project will continue and is now seeking further funding opportunities, including from the Royal Society of Medicine and the EPSRC.