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Biotech Input Devices Robotics News Hardware Science Technology

First Bionic Fingertip Implant Delivers Sensational Results (gizmag.com) 26

Zothecula writes: Dennis Aabo Sorensen may be missing a hand, but he nonetheless recently felt rough and smooth textures using a fingertip on that arm. The fingertip was electronic, and was surgically hard-wired to nerves in his upper arm. He is reportedly the first person in the world to recognize texture using a bionic fingertip connected to electrodes that were surgically implanted above his stump. The device was created by scientists from the Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, and Italy's Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna research institute. While it was wired to Sorensen, a machine moved it across rough and smooth plastic surfaces. Sensors in the fingertip generated electrical signals as they deformed in response to the topography of those surfaces, and transmitted those signals to the nerves in a series of electrical spikes -- this was reportedly an imitation of the "language of the nervous system." He was able to differentiate between the two surfaces with an accuracy of 96 percent.
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First Bionic Fingertip Implant Delivers Sensational Results

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  • would qualify
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2016 @09:20PM (#51669577)

    The guy is an amputee. It's not one of those things where he had no experience with a sensation, and needed to be trained to recognize that a particular stimulus represented rough or smooth textures.

    From TFA:

    "The stimulation felt almost like what I would feel with my hand," he said. "I still feel my missing hand, it is always clenched in a fist. I felt the texture sensations at the tip of the index finger of my phantom hand."

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I wonder if this technology will eventually put an end to phantom limb syndrome. If there are real sensations, then maybe the dorsal horn won't need to make them up.

      • Its a start. Even once you get there, you go back to phantom limbs once you power it up, or it goes to a low power state.

  • That if my dad chops my hand off - I can get a new one soon?

  • No one has noticed the awesome joke "sensational" results?
  • *Boinc boinc boinc boinc boinc* and then he touches something in slow motion?
  • I knew I should have filed for USPTO protection when I was proposing this back in 2007.

    Ah well. There are too many good ideas, so one has to cull them at some point.

    • One also has to not try to take credit for ideas from popular television shows, such as the Six Million Dollar Man, from 1973. Or try to take credit or the hundreds if not thousands of science fiction stories with artificial limbs from before that.

      This reminds me that I'm actually seeing signs of a revival of dotcom business plans. Exciting "new" ideas are being funded in startup companies, ideas that gathered funding but didn't work out profitably 15 years ago, either. Facial recognition and natural speec

      • Patents are about how you do something, not what it does. The idea has been in sci-fi forever, of course, but sci-fi novels are not engineering manuals. They assume that some current (at writing) technological capabilities exist, and go from there. That is how all fiction works.

        I agree with your broad-brush statement about a new wave of dot-coms that are going to save the world. They tell the same old story, but never give a hint as to how they are going to achieve it.

        Back to the topic to-hand; I had th

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 10, 2016 @03:42AM (#51670481)

    Ever since I was about 12 (now mid 30's), I wondered what the so-called "language of the nervous system" was. As in, what protocol. Like 9600 Baud 8N1 sending Modbus, there has to be some typical defined format or packet of information.

    My gripe is that it never seemed that neurologists had never brought in an electrical engineer or computer scientist to properly map out the "spikes". Seeing the crappy smooth graphs of the spikes or pulsing that nerves are described to do in textbooks, my fear was that they were only seeing grossly distorted spikes and were missing out on the signal nuances as the probe gain could be totally wrong or impedances totally mismatched.

    The questions remain, like what does amplitude correlate to, what is the meaning of a period of time between a certain kind of signal spike, and whatnot. It can't just be random throbbing because how is a person able to distinguish what exact finger is feeling what sensation (pressure, wetness, sharpness, high or low temperature, etc)?

  • The link itself is wicked impressive, but transmitting valid signals is HUGE!

Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced. - John Keats

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