The device could lead to a new generation of prosthetic limbs giving the wearer the ability to reach for objects without thinking.
A revolutionary bionic hand that “sees” objects and instantly decides what kind of grip to adopt has been developed by scientists.
The device could lead to a new generation of prosthetic limbs giving the wearer the ability to reach for objects without thinking, researchers say.
A camera fitted to the hand rapidly takes a picture of the object in front of it and feeds the information to an electronic “brain”.
The computer automatically assesses the object’s shape and size and “within milliseconds” triggers the correct movements needed to pick it up, whether a light pinch or firm grip.
A small number of amputees have already trialled the technology, developed at the University of Newcastle.
Dr Kianoush Nazarpour, a senior lecturer in biomedical engineering at the university, said: “Prosthetic limbs have changed very little in the past 100 years.
“The design is much better and the materials are lighter weight and more durable but they still work in the same way.
“Using computer vision, we have developed a bionic hand which can respond automatically.
“In fact, just like a real hand, the user can reach out and pick up a cup or a biscuit with nothing more than a quick glance in the right direction.
“Responsiveness has been one of the main barriers to artificial limbs.
“For many amputees the reference point is their healthy arm or leg so prosthetics seem slow and cumbersome in comparison.
“Now, for the first time in a century, we have developed an ‘intuitive’ hand that can react without thinking.”