Hold on: It isn’t clear how much these technologies might reduce the cost of prosthetics, and there are still significant challenges to overcome, like muscle fatigue and the complications that will inevitably come with the getting the software to recognize a wide variety of real-world movements.
Their five-fingered, 3D-printed hand is controlled using a neural network trained to recognize combined signals—or, as they call them, “muscle synergies. ” Details of the bionic hand are published today in the journal Science Robotics.
A 3D-printed prosthetic hand controlled using a new AI-based approach could significantly lower the cost of bionic limbs for amputees.
Real need: There are approximately 540,000 upper-limb amputees in the United States, but sophisticated “myoelectric” prosthetics, controlled by muscle contractions, are still very expensive.
Such devices cost between $25,000 and $75,000 (not including maintenance and repair), and they can be difficult to use because it is hard for software to distinguish between different muscle flexes.