A project in the United Kingdom is aiming to develop an affordable fingertip prosthesis with integrated mechanical haptic feedback. It will combine mathematical modelling to derive finer scale models of hand motion and motion capture capabilities with practical aspects of digit design through body-powered motion and haptic sensing.
Principal investigator Michael Chappell, PhD, an engineering professor at the University of Warwick, told The Engineer magazine that funding is supporting a doctoral student who had been studying hand grasp taxonomies and how common grasps have changed based on current usage.
“There’s a lot more usage of tablets, keyboards, and phones, which means that common hand grasps have changed dramatically over the years,” Chappell said.
“A total hand amputation is very debilitating, but it is also very rare—single digits, such as a thumb, are much more common, and without a thumb the function of the hand becomes very hard,” the project’s co-investigator, Joseph Hardwicke, MD, told the magazine. “I think using the design technologies we already have available in the [National Health Service], if we can make this into a functional prosthesis, it’ll be a real game changer.”