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DART hand  (Source: Nicholas Thayer)
Robotic hand can type 20 words per minute with one hand, while the average human types 33 words per minute with both hands

Nicholas Thayer and Shashank Priya, study leaders and researchers from Virginia Tech, have developed a robotic hand that is capable of performing human tasks such as opening doors and typing. 

The robotic hand is called a dexterous anthropomorphic robotic typing hand, or DART hand. It is designed to both look and act just like a real human hand, and closely mimics the actions of the human hand more than any other robotic version to date.  

Other robotic hands created before the DART hand have had varied numbers of fingers that did not look or act like an actual human hand. In addition, these other robotic hands could not accurately type at the speed that the DART hand can. 

To make the DART hand, the Virginia Tech researchers studied the physiology of the human hand. The human hand has 40 muscles with 23 degrees of freedom in both the wrist and hand. By observing the hand's range of motion, grasp force and musculoskeletal structure, Thayer and Priya were able to make servomotors and wires imitate the human hand's actions. 

Using a total of 19 motors, researchers were able to reach 19 degrees of freedom. Rapid prototyping was used to fabricate components, which cut weight, costs and fabrication time.

The DART hand is controlled through input text by a keyboard or a voice recognition program, where individual fingers receive commands on where to position themselves. For example, when typing, a finger receives a command to place itself above the correct letter. The finger presses the key, and the letter is checked for accuracy. If the letter pressed was incorrect, the DART hand is able to twist and turn the wrist to navigate the keyboard and press the backspace key. 

"The greatest significance of our work is the optimization of the hand design to reduce the number of motors in order to achieve a similar degree of freedom and range of motion as the human hand," said Priya. "This allowed us to achieve dimensions that are on par with the human hand. We were also able to program the hand in such a manner that a high typing efficiency can be obtained."

The DART hand is capable of typing 20 words per minute with just one hand on a regular computer keyboard. Using both hands, researchers expect that the DART hands will be able to type at least 30 words per minute. The average human types approximately 33 words per minute. 

The main difference between the DART hand and a human hand is that the DART hand's fingers are controlled independently while tendons, moving joints in more than one finger, connect human hand muscles. 

"We have already experimented with grasping tasks," said Priya. "In the current form it is not optimized for grasping, but in our next version there will be enough sensors to provide feedback for controlling the grasping action." 

Other improvements that the researchers plan to apply to the DART hand are silicon skin, tactile sensors, temperature sensors, and tension sensors. 

This study was published in Smart Materials and Structures.



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One step closer...
By JackBurton on 2/21/2011 10:09:58 AM , Rating: 3
One step closer to my Luke Skywalker hand. Next up, a Terminator body.




RE: One step closer...
By muIIet on 2/21/2011 10:50:01 AM , Rating: 2
I'll wait on the Wolverine version.


RE: One step closer...
By BladeVenom on 2/21/2011 2:11:55 PM , Rating: 2
I'm waiting on an android.


RE: One step closer...
By Obujuwami on 2/21/2011 10:50:59 AM , Rating: 2
I would rather have more slimline cybernetic arms than a "replacement" hand. Think Data's arms but than can tie into the human nervous system and have the ability to modify them for specific tasks.

That would be cool and seriously productive to our society. Hands that are designed to bend at odd angles, super strong, or (for the military) have weapons implanted in them for close combat.


RE: One step closer...
By ShaolinSoccer on 2/21/2011 11:58:31 AM , Rating: 2
So you're saying we should all just cut off our arms and replace them with fake ones to be more productive? If anything, that technology would be great for people who lost their limbs due to accidents. But there's no way in hell I would volunteer to replace my real arms...


RE: One step closer...
By Kurz on 2/21/2011 12:28:51 PM , Rating: 2
I beg to differ, you haven't seen the iHand.

http://www.theonion.com/video/apple-fans-chopping-...


RE: One step closer...
By kyleb2112 on 2/21/2011 10:20:36 PM , Rating: 2
Parking spaces in the future
By AnnihilatorX on 2/21/2011 12:45:21 PM , Rating: 5
Nowadays you have nice parking spaces reserved for disabled people.

In the future, where physically disabled people have easier access to superhuman cybernetic enhancements, there will be special parking spaces for disadvantaged pure humans without implants.

(No offense, please don't take it seriously.)




By morphologia on 2/21/2011 2:54:18 PM , Rating: 2
That would almost be funny if it weren't scarily possible. o_O

Things could get like Ghost in the Shell, where "normal" humans are less-qualified and less-capable for jobs like military and police work. Of course, Ghost in the Shell also had those cool typing-specialized hands, where each finger separated into 2 or 3 typing appendages, each of which could tap away independently, for a total of like 4,000 WPM.


...So does this mean
By petrosy on 2/21/2011 5:11:18 PM , Rating: 2
it feels like some one else when mastrubating? I can see a potential market here!




RE: ...So does this mean
By Solandri on 2/21/2011 8:20:24 PM , Rating: 2
I suspect the sex industry will provide most of the initial R&D incentive, with remote manipulation of a limb like this allowing you to "interact" with someone in a sex chat over the Internet. But there's a long-term benefit to that if you can believe it.

Say you needed some type of rare surgery, and the only specialist lived halfway around the world. With a couple cameras and hands controlled like this over the Internet, the surgeon could operate on you from halfway around the world. I believe the term for it is remote presence.


Don't take it anywhere near Watson!
By ie5x on 2/22/2011 1:39:57 AM , Rating: 2
Or we might have Judgment Day...!




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