A bionic fingertip enabled an amputee to feel different textures, researchers report.
The fingertip was linked to electrodes surgically implanted into nerves in Dennis Aabo Sorensen’s upper arm. Sorenson was able to feel smoothness and roughness with the fingertip, the researchers said.
A machine controlled the movement of the fingertip over pieces of plastic with different rough or smooth patterns. As the fingertip moved over the plastic surfaces, sensors generated electrical signals that were sent to the nerves in Sorensen’s upper arm.
He could tell the difference between smooth and rough textures 96 percent of the time, the researchers said.
The successful test of the bionic fingertip could help speed efforts to develop artificial limbs that provide sensory feedback, according to Silvestro Micera, from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland and colleagues.
“The stimulation felt almost like what I would feel with my hand,” Sorensen said in an EPFL news release. “I felt the texture sensations at the tip of the index finger of my phantom hand.”
In addition to benefiting amputees, the technology could also be used to create artificial touch in robots used in surgery, rescue and manufacturing, the scientists said.
Their research was published March 8 in the journal eLife.
The Amputee Coalition has more about limb loss.