September 2, 2011

Japanese Company Developing Prosthetic Hand

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Precision parts manufacturer and product developer, ITK, Hashima-city, Gifu, Japan, is focusing its research and development efforts on medical machinery with an eye toward creating a prosthetic hand.

Photograph of the Handroid courtesy of Shintaro Iwato/ITK.

Now in its fourth iteration, the “Handroid” is a remotely operated, five-finger, movable robotic hand that can be used in engineering environments that are inaccessible or dangerous to human hands, according to the company website. Most of the existing robotic hands do not use all five fingers. Further, other five-finger models usually have servomotors in each joint in the fingers, which makes the robotic hand heavy, complicated, and expensive.

By applying advanced metalworking techniques and similar metals that are used in aircraft parts, ITK developed the Handroid to be lightweight (740g), inexpensive to manufacture, durable and able to move in a manner similar that of a human hand. The robotic hand is remotely operated by a glove-type controller that the operator dons; the Handroid mimics the operator’s hand movements.

ITK is exploring modifications that would transform the Handroid to a myoelectric prosthetic hand with a neural interface.

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