servos with push-pull rods or cables connected to the four
fingers. Figure 14 is a photo of a robot hand made by
Eric Albers. Note the four Hi Tec servos in the hand’s palm
Another hand from
hackaday.com is shown in
Figure 15 that is made from easily obtainable hardware
store items such as bicycle chain links. These designers and
others are not necessarily trying to design a workable hand
for a person who has lost their hand(s), but just to advance
their robot’s capabilities with a very versatile end effector.
iLimb Hand by Touch Bionics
Functional and useful prosthetic hands for use by
humans in day-to-day life must pass strict National
Institutes of Health and other medical agencies rules and
regulations. Ease of attachment to the body is important,
as well as comfortable fit for a variety of users and sizes.
Ease of use is critical, as well as functionality. These and
other goals make human hand augmentation designs a
long and drawn out process.
The I-Limb is one of many of these hand prostheses
that have been in technology news lately. The i-Limb Ultra
prosthetic hand shown in Figure 16 is designed for those
who want more from their prosthesis.
Touch Bionics began in Scotland, and their facilities
have spread to the US and the rest of Europe. As with all
prosthetic devices, many human clinical trials slowly
narrowed down the most effective design. The result is
the i-Limb Ultra that provides the ability to gradually
increase the strength of its grip on an object.
The assistive device can be controlled via a smart
phone as shown in Figure 17. This allows instant access
to 24 different clasping patterns. These include a wide
selection of automated grips and gestures that aid users in
completing daily tasks such as using index pointing for
typing and a precision pinch mode for grabbing small
The i-Limb hand utilizes pulsing and vari-grip features,
allowing the prosthetic hand to implement a firmer hold
when conducting tasks such as tying shoelaces or holding
a heavy bag securely, or a natural hand position for
walking or while at rest.
After a period of inactivity, the hand automatically
retracts to a natural position. Touch Bionics provides
upgraded biosim-i and biosim-pro control software that
allows the hand to be as life-like as possible.
This past August, I wrote about robots to serve man.
The advances that robotics is giving to medicine with these
prosthetic applications is a most vivid example of how the
science that we all love is truly serving humankind.
Experimenters in home shops, university labs, and new
small businesses will be the catalysts for new and even
larger companies that will supply these very personal
robotic devices to help change people’s lives. Some of you
readers will be among these innovators. SV
SERVO 11.2013 81
Figure 17. The i-Hand can be configured with a smart phone.
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