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Expert Comment: Exciting developments in mind-controlled robotics

Dr Emanuele Secco Friday 14 October 2016

As the scientific community celebrates advances in mind-controlled robotics, Lecturer in Electronic Engineering Dr Emanuele Secco explains the significance. 

The scientific community has recently become excited about a new development on human subject interaction with prosthetic devices.

Through a brain computer interface, a paralysed man who lost his sense of touch in a car accident has been able to feel tactile feedback stimuli on the fingertip of a robotic hand connected to his brain.

This study follows previous research on the context of bidirectional prostheses, which has shown the capability to even identify the stiffness and shape of objects by pure sensations feedback originated from an artificial hand.

This is great progress, since paralysed and amputee subjects have a chance to recover feeling in their limb, which may improve the quality of life as well as the ability to grasp and interact with everyday objects. 

Nevertheless, these technologies usually require the end-user to undergo a surgical procedure where a cortical array is implanted on the brain cortex and, furthermore, to attend training sessions.

At Liverpool Hope University we are also trying to develop new technologies enhancing tactile sensation through less invasive methods.

Working with PhD student Andualum Tadesse, we've been researching Integrated Wireless & Wearable Haptics System for Virtual Interaction.

Through a system of motors and electrodes attached to the wrist and fingertips, a user receives the sensation of touch when moving items in 3D virtual reality.

Vibrations and pulses fire nerves in the fingers that trick the brain into thinking the user is touching what they see.

Watch Andualum explain how the technology works. 


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