Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna researchers have developed a bionic fingertip that allows amputees to feel textures and differentiate between rough and smooth surfaces.
Electrodes were surgically implanted into the upper arm of a man whose arm had been amputated below the elbow. A machine moved an artificial finger, wired with electrodes, across smooth and rough lines on a plastic strip. The fingertip movement generated an electrical signal, which translated into a series of electrical spikes sent to the brain. The spikes mimicked the language of the nervous system and create the sensation of feeling.
The subject, Aabo Sørensen said: “When the scientists stimulate my nerves I could feel the vibration and sense of touch in my phantom index finger,” he says. “[It] is quite close to when you feel it with your normal finger you can feel the coarseness of the plates and different gaps and ribs.”
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