New York-based engineering startup Esper Bionics has developed a robotic hand that incorporates intuitive self-learning technology, outpacing similar prosthetics in speed. The Esper Hand uses a brain-computer interface (BCI) based on electromyography, a system that collects brain activity to trigger movements.
When the user wants to control the hand, their brain sends impulses to specific muscles. More than 30 non-invasive sensors connect the stump to the user’s skin, detecting muscle activity and transmitting electrical signals to execute actions in the hand. This approach, which allows paralyzed patients to control the prosthesis through thoughts, positions the Esper Bionics arm as three times faster than many prosthetics available on the market .
” We seek to create a lightweight, durable hand with human dexterity that learns over time and can help people with limb differences live their best lives with confidence ,” said Gazda, a company representative.
How does the Esper Hand robotic hand work?
The Esper Hand features five movable fingers and offers a variety of ways to twist and grip, allowing the user to carry out everyday activities such as opening bottles, driving, using kitchen utensils or interacting with a phone screen.
Weighing 380 grams, the arm is constructed from a combination of materials including polyoxymethylene plastic, fluoroplastics, nylon, aluminum, steel, titanium, bronze, and three different types of silicone.
This robotic hand is available in four sizes and five colors. Esper Bionics used electromechanics in the design and manufacturing process to ensure that the hand could perform all necessary functions. This involved durability testing on 3D printed versions of the hand, adjusting its shape and size accordingly.
” We created the design of the hand of the future by making sure it is as human-like as possible ,” Gazda said.
According to the company, the result is an arm that is “lighter than a human hand” and, at 380 grams, is lighter than many prosthetic limbs available on the market. The flexible hand features modular fingers that have the ability to perform a variety of common grips , such as bending, pinching the fingers together, cupping the hand, and making a fist.
Likewise, it has a “special mechanism” that makes it easier to disconnect the arm , which can be practical, for example, when changing clothes. Esper Bionics has also developed a cloud-based platform that can be linked to the prosthetic arm to improve its performance over time. This solution, called Esper Platform, can connect to the user’s smartphone or laptop, collecting and storing data about the user’s movements to more quickly “learn” and predict the user’s future actions.
” Thanks to all the data collected, the platform updates the hand control algorithms so that the next time the preferred grip has a higher priority to be chosen in the same situation ,” Gazda explained.
In this context, Gazda maintains that the technology implemented in Esper Hand has the potential to increase the quality of life of amputees.
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