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Wearable Robot Adds Two Fingers To Your Hand

Soulskill posted about 3 months ago | from the handy-inventions dept.

Robotics 77

rtoz writes: Researchers at MIT have developed a robot that enhances the grasping motion of the human hand. This wrist-wearable robot adds two extra fingers that respond to movements in the wearer's hand. The robotic fingers are on either side of the hand — one outside the thumb, and the other outside the little finger. A control algorithm enables it to move in sync with the wearer's fingers to grasp objects of various shapes and sizes. With the assistance of these extra fingers, the user can grasp objects that are usually too difficult to pick up and manipulate with a single hand.

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Thus begins the Borg (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47483673)

We are becoming the Borg. I guess resistance really is futile!

Re:Thus begins the Borg (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47483765)

... printing out drawings of impossible geometrical shapes ...

The octopus problem (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 3 months ago | (#47488043)

How many of us have tried to do something and wished we had (at least) a third hand?

I would pay a *lot* for a third hand, as I do a lot of my own construction work (building an interior into an old church we now live in.)

I can't even guess at the number of times I've had to wait until I had someone at my side to hold, turn, twist, drill, cut, brace, etc.

This stuff is great to hear. Love the idea of extra fingers.

Although it does put me strangely in mind of that scene in Heavy Metal where a robot, after having "done" a very sexy human female, spins his fingers around with a "whiiizzz", while commenting something on the order of "human woman love sex with mechanical assistance" lol

Re:Thus begins the Borg (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 3 months ago | (#47483787)

Technology is progressing to where, one day, maybe you actually CAN pick your friend's nose.

Re:Thus begins the Borg (1)

motorhead (82353) | about 3 months ago | (#47484433)

While typing.

"Fingers" (0, Troll)

sexconker (1179573) | about 3 months ago | (#47483739)

Fingers? Those are dildos. Rig this up to a cock and you'll have an actual use case.
But as it stands it looks completely useless.

Re:"Fingers" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47483823)

But as it stands

I see what you did there...

Re:"Fingers" (1, Offtopic)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 3 months ago | (#47483833)

Fingers? Those are dildos

and you don't think the *Japanese* have already marked this down as a sex toy possibility?

but seriously, expand your mind. This sort of thing has huge potential, just look at existing robo-skeletons already in use. That this initial prototype is unwieldy and rough? it's how progress is made

Re:"Fingers" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47484807)

Two in the pink, five in the stink.

Fingers (0)

slashdice (3722985) | about 3 months ago | (#47484145)

Nah, stick the extra finger up your asshole when you're masturbating. Best. Jackoff. Session. Ever.

The Gripping Hand? (2)

boristdog (133725) | about 3 months ago | (#47483775)

I see that the kids at MIT have read their Niven.

Re:The Gripping Hand? (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47483853)

I see that the kids at MIT have read their Niven.

They should probably have read their Shirow, instead. To wit, it makes much more sense to add more arms than to do anything else. We already have two arms which are good at doing fine work. Adding more fingers to them will only make them more cumbersome. Instead, you add more arms to perform gross tasks, like holding things up for a long time, carrying or moving heavy things, and so on. These arms could be programmable to continue doing whatever you were doing, whether it be static, dynamic, or include aspects of both. For example, clamping two items together, operating a pump, or holding a camera steady, respectively.

Re:The Gripping Hand? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47483921)

These arms could be programmable to continue doing whatever you were doing, whether it be static, dynamic, or include aspects of both. For example, clamping two items together, operating a pump, or holding a camera steady, respectively.

That's a weird way to say masturbation.

Re:The Gripping Hand? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47483961)

These arms could be programmable to continue doing whatever you were doing, whether it be static, dynamic, or include aspects of both. For example, clamping two items together, operating a pump, or holding a camera steady, respectively.

That's a weird way to say masturbation.

I said or respectively, not and simultaneously.

Re:The Gripping Hand? (1)

Briareos (21163) | about 3 months ago | (#47485239)

These arms could be programmable to continue doing whatever you were doing, whether it be static, dynamic, or include aspects of both. For example, clamping two items together, operating a pump, or holding a camera steady, respectively.

That's a weird way to say masturbation.

Well, considering what Shirow has been up to lately it's probably the first thing that comes to mind...

Re:The Gripping Hand? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47484435)

Euh, you have 2 two arms. Not everyone has 2 arms. For people missing an arm or a hand this might very well be a good solution to daily problems. And yes have extra arms can be handy, yes replacing an arm with a robotic arm would be great. But we are not there yet, so if adding 2 robotic fingers might help some people why not do it?

Re:The Gripping Hand? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47484751)

Adding another arm is also Niven.

Re:The Gripping Hand? (1)

brianerst (549609) | about 3 months ago | (#47485163)

The GP was imprecise. The Gripping Hand of the Moties in the Niven/Pournelle CoDominium universe is a third arm/hand - it is used for strength and better grip. Two hands for detail/fine work, one for heavy lifting/gripping.

It's also used in the sense of a "third way" between two sides of an argument - "on the one hand, on the other hand and on the gripping hand". The gripping hand argument is supposed to be the strongest one and a way around the weakness of the core conflict.

Re:The Gripping Hand? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47485621)

It's also used in the sense of a "third way" between two sides of an argument - "on the one hand, on the other hand and on the gripping hand".

Yes, I use it in that sense here on slashdot all the time, because I am a big ol' nerd. And amusingly, I have even contributed to a discussion titled "on the gripping hand" here on Slashdot.

The Gripping Hand of the Moties in the Niven/Pournelle CoDominium universe is a third arm/hand - it is used for strength and better grip. Two hands for detail/fine work, one for heavy lifting/gripping.

Right. And at least one Shirow suit (but several, IIRC) has big arms above the wearer's normal arms, which can be used to do stuff like throw cars. But the wearer's arms can also be used while the suit is worn, to do fine work that doesn't require massive arms that are themselves around the size of a human in body armor.

Re:The Gripping Hand? (1)

rizole (666389) | about 3 months ago | (#47485393)

A bioenginnered prehensile tail. Just saying.

Well (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47483777)

We all know what the next anime porn fad will be.

meh (1, Insightful)

globaljustin (574257) | about 3 months ago | (#47483783)

this looks like good engineering work...really...I read TFA...but the *design* and *concept* are, to me, kind of dumb

dumb...as in it really feels like they were spitballing ideas and said "hey, why not extra fingers?"

IMHO this is an example of robotics continuing to spin its wheels...

it's a *power* and *material science* game now...we have the connectivity with the brain now...we have stacks of ideas...who can't imagine all kinds of applications for robotics?

now it's just about the power source and making it small enough yet sturdy

Re:meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47484329)

but the *design* and *concept* are, to me, kind of dumb

It might seem less dumb to you if you were missing one hand after an accident?
You are not the center of the universe, and there are other viewpoints than yours...

different than prostetic hand (2)

globaljustin (574257) | about 3 months ago | (#47484389)

wow...

first of all, I can criticize the concept and design all I want...it's not rude or offensive towards disabled people to demand *better* design at all...

missing one hand after an accident?

your (trolling) criticism is also factually incorrect....TFA isn't a prostetic hand to replace an injured limb...this is expressly intended to be an addition to the main 'hand' so anyone might use it

my point was/is that robotics is only limited by the power source and material strength now, and all these (really expensive) hype-generating projects is not progressing science...it's just rearranging of tinker toys, b/c we have different limits now...we have the BCI interface perfected enough to start using for this stuff...the design ideas are there...now its just a question of power/material strength...i'd like to see research and hype directed in that area

Re:different than prostetic hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47484497)

I think it would be useful to a person missing a hand or arm. They could use the extra 2 fingers to steady something that normally would be steadied by the missing hand.

Re:different than prostetic hand (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 3 months ago | (#47484925)

The person missing a hand or an arm would be better served by a robotic hand or arm. Even if refined, this idea would always be less useful than even current high end prosthetic replacing the actual missing limb.

Re:different than prostetic hand (1)

ph0rk (118461) | about 3 months ago | (#47486855)

Because they can clearly only use one or the other.

Re:different than prostetic hand (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 3 months ago | (#47487513)

Because they can clearly only use one or the other.

yeah I thought the same...

if i was missing a hand, I'd definitely want to try this out in tandem with my prostetic hand

this is a great area to be in, for my money...you get to work with the latest BCI crap and robotics AND directly improve people's lives in a tangible way

Re:different than prostetic hand (1)

Belial6 (794905) | about 3 months ago | (#47497751)

Which would make the fact that the person is missing a limb irrelevant to the use of this device, and we are back to letting all of the other comments that deal with this outside of the scope of prosthesis for people with missing hands.

Third hand? (1)

srk (49331) | about 3 months ago | (#47483791)

I would prefer a third hand, with one more hand you can do much more than with just two additional fingers.

Re:Third hand? (2)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 3 months ago | (#47483831)

I would prefer a third hand, with one more hand you can do much more than with just two additional fingers.

I am sure you are correct but controlling an extra arm may not be as intuitive as the extra fingers. It looks to me as if the programming kinda makes the fingers work with your natural movements to give you a little more capability.

Re:Third hand? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 3 months ago | (#47484055)

I would prefer a third hand, with one more hand you can do much more than with just two additional fingers.

That's what she said.

Re:Third hand? (1)

danomatika (1977210) | about 3 months ago | (#47486417)

Yes you can. Artists ahead of their time, Stelarc's 1980 Third Hand: http://people.ucsc.edu/~joahan... [ucsc.edu]

Re:Third hand? (1)

danomatika (1977210) | about 3 months ago | (#47486437)

Some context from Stelarc's website [stelarc.org] :

The hand was completed in 1980 in Yokohama. It was based on a prototype developed at Waseda University. It was constructed with the assistance of Imasen in Nagoya. It has been used in performances by the artist between 1980- 1998 in Japan, the USA, Europe and Australia. It has become the best- known and longest-used performance object for the artist. Originally it was designed as a semi- permanent attachment to the body, but because of skin irritation from electrode gel and the weight of the hand, support structure and the battery pack (approx. 2 kgms), it could not be worn continuously and thus it became a special performance device. The Third Hand has come to stand for a body of work that explored intimate interface of technology and prosthetic augmentation- not as a replacement but rather as an addition to the body. A prosthesis not as a sign of lack, but rather a symptom of excess. The Third Hand performances, with amplified body signals and sounds, have contributed to cyborg discourses on the body, included in more recent performances such as FRACTAL FLESH, PING BODY and PARASITE. See documentation of the performance postcards for a conceptual context.

Stelarc's third hand! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47487549)

Stelarc was my art teacher when I went to International School in Japan in the late 70s. He was, as parent said, truly ahead of his time. I recall his early designs for the hand (really, arm with hand) that would be used for amongst other things hanging on to steady himself whilst on the train.
What's old is new again...

Real life application (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47483825)

Mechanically enhanced flipping.
U+1F595 U+1F595 U+1F595

thiS FP for GNAA! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47483827)

be treated by your steadily fuckin6 bloodfarts. FreeBSD backward and said

Can't wait for new musical instruments (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47483869)

Strumming on some super power chords!

Re:Can't wait for new musical instruments (3, Funny)

un1nsp1red (2503532) | about 3 months ago | (#47484171)

Maybe I'll finally be able to play Classical Gas!

Re:Can't wait for new musical instruments (1)

Demolition (713476) | about 3 months ago | (#47487273)

Yes! With this doohickey, I can finally play the Hardest Chord Ever [hrwiki.org] !!! \m/

And now for the improperly spun article of the day (2)

DrPeper (249585) | about 3 months ago | (#47483879)

Ok, so I read the snippet of the article and got one image in my mind, then when I went to the article and saw the picture... Let's just say less than impressive. Those aren't fingers those are sticks.

Wake me when I can strap two extra tentacle like arms with actually human(ish) hands on the end of them to my back. Oh and they should be partially intelligent too.

Re:And now for the improperly spun article of the (4, Funny)

boristdog (133725) | about 3 months ago | (#47484013)

Sure, and have Spider man trying to kick your ass all the time?

Single Hand? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47483899)

Grasp objects [...] too difficult [use] with a single hand.

You mean like today's smartphones?

Hot Dogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47483979)

I can duct tape two hot dogs to my wrist to achieve the same effect.

The Yakuza (4, Funny)

Ronin Developer (67677) | about 3 months ago | (#47483997)

are thrilled.

quashed by corporate America (0)

minstrelmike (1602771) | about 3 months ago | (#47484015)

This new development will be quashed by Wall Street. There are to many fingers in the pie already.
And as far as the slashdot reader is concerned, two extra fingers probably won't make much difference during masturbation (but that would have to be tested).

My name is Inigo Montoya (4, Funny)

cheese_boy (118027) | about 3 months ago | (#47484029)

You killed my father, prepare to die.
Oh - wait, you've got 7 fingers and not 6?
Oh, OK then, nevermind.

Extra middle fingers would be useful (2)

NeoNormal (594362) | about 3 months ago | (#47484179)

to me in my job. I could flip off more managers in one action.

Re:Extra middle fingers would be useful (1)

Cardoor (3488091) | about 3 months ago | (#47484957)

but you can only have one middle finger. if you are agnostic to it being a single-digit-flip, you can give a reverse-boy-scout-salute with the middle three and get a leg up

Furries (1)

Nkwe (604125) | about 3 months ago | (#47484211)

are thinking about having prehensile tails now.

Ghost in the Shell? (1)

rsborg (111459) | about 3 months ago | (#47484229)

Maybe it's a precursor to this awesomeness [1].
[1] https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]

Impressed (1)

LongearedBat (1665481) | about 3 months ago | (#47484331)

Ah, that explains how Doctor Octopus can control his mechanical arms. Perhaps that can give Spider-Man an added advantage.

On a more serious note: I'm impressed they can control the extra fingers so naturally. I didn't think it'd be possible without interfacing directly with the nervous system.

Deceptive headline is deceptive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47484381)

This isn't a "wearable robot [that] adds two fingers to your hand", it's a "miniature semi-articulated forklift that you wear on your arm".

I mean, seriously? Research at this type and level (particularly of sophistication) is no longer new, exciting or groundbreaking. In the 70's? Most definitely. The 80's, even the 90's? Sure, why not. But 2014? No. The original Disney animatronics showed more apparent functionality and promise than this thing that looks like it was a prop in a 1950's era sci-fi movie or a bad 70's porno.

This isn't even beta we're seeing here, this is for all intents and purposes an R&D pre-alpha: certainly not something the engineers should be bragging about as if it were some great leap forward in robotics or prosthetics. When they've got something to offer that is approaching a functional, useful and marketable status, or at the very least when they really have made some serious strides in miniaturization, joint articulation, motor strength, power consumption, human-machine kinesthesia, interface adaptability & learning, or something else besides the equivalent of overgrown kids playing with Lego, then they might have something worth writing about.

Don't get me wrong, I totally approve of overgrown kids playing with overgrown, over-engineered Lego, I'm just not impressed, seeing as how I've seen stuff like this come out of Hackerspaces with similar - or greater - levels of sophistication and refinement. Coming out of a shop like MIT, this really isn't anything worth tweeting about (outside the interested immediate friends and families of the students in question, that is), much less deserving actual article space.

Re:Deceptive headline is deceptive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47484537)

I agree. This is total shit. It's movements didn't seem to mimic her hand or fingers. It looked like it did what it fucking wanted to. They've created entire hands that respond better than this thing. And all this is, is 2 long extensions that sort of grab things. Looks awkward as hell.

This illustrates my problem with creationism (1)

HangingChad (677530) | about 3 months ago | (#47484457)

Religious people claim we were designed by god That seems hard to believe when engineering improvements like this can be made so easily. Our skulls are too soft, our field of vision and range of motion is fairly limited. If the Great Engineer in the sky really did design human beings, it seems like he or she could have done a better job. We have features that give us a competitive advantage over other animals, nothing more.

See TFS - it exemplifies the opposite (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 3 months ago | (#47485999)

Apparently you didn't watch the fine video.
The bright young entrepreneurs at MIT had human fingers to examine as prior art, and what they came up with was "strap two sticks to your wrist to get in the way". The original design of our bodies is WAY better than what MIT is coming up with.

Have you ever had a nasty cut, where you cut a little chunk out of yourself? I''ve done that a few times. I couldn't locate exactly where, because the missing chunks of flesh have been regenerated automatically. Try taking a chunk out of your iPhone or any human technology. Let us know when it grows back.

There are some people with some silly ideas about the creator, and therefore some strong arguments against those silly ideas. Engineering prowess isn't one of those strong arguments. Everything from the water cycle on the macro level to ion pumps on the microscopic level - genius ideas abound in nature.

Re:This illustrates my problem with creationism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47487611)

Religious people claim we were designed by god That seems hard to believe when engineering improvements like this can be made so easily. Our skulls are too soft, our field of vision and range of motion is fairly limited. If the Great Engineer in the sky really did design human beings, it seems like he or she could have done a better job. We have features that give us a competitive advantage over other animals, nothing more.

No shit. Birds are tetrachromats, why the fuck am I stuck as a trichromat if I'm supposed to be a superior, later design? Why is their vision an improvement over mine? How is omniscience supposed to work when you can't even see all that well?

Reminiscent of 60's Toy "Sixfinger" (1)

theodp (442580) | about 3 months ago | (#47484461)

Re:Reminiscent of 60's Toy "Sixfinger" (1)

nytes (231372) | about 3 months ago | (#47484763)

Heh. I had one of those.

Not nearly as disturbing as this, sold as a kid's party game in Japan [everydaynodaysoff.com] , IMO.

Contrived (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 3 months ago | (#47484469)

All the examples look very contrived. They show specific tasks where the extra fingers would be useful. For me the extra fingers would probably be useful 1% of the time and get in the way 90% of the time.

looks more like .... (1)

Selur (2745445) | about 3 months ago | (#47484471)

.. two dildos, then two additional fingers, so may be it will be a great thing in the sex toy industry

Amputees (1)

scuzzlebutt (517123) | about 3 months ago | (#47484829)

I can see this being most useful for amputees that have only the use of one hand. The use case where one would normally use one hand to stabilize an object and the other to manipulate it would be very useful to this group of people.

Re:Amputees (1)

scuzzlebutt (517123) | about 3 months ago | (#47484837)

Additionally, they didn't even touch on this in the video.

The women in my life (1)

denmarkw00t (892627) | about 3 months ago | (#47485053)

Will be quite pleased. Or mortified.

Re:The women in my life (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 3 months ago | (#47485439)

I was waiting for someone to make "The Shocker" reference.....of course, the very inexperienced geek college kids who think that is cool may one day find out female anatomy doesn't make it possible to actually use the configuration of fingers as advertised.

Re:The women in my life (1)

denmarkw00t (892627) | about 3 months ago | (#47485815)

C'mon, get limber! But, I would always advise in getting consent for those kinds of things, or the shocker might end up being the swift kick in the face you get for trying to surprise her.

Re:The women in my life (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 3 months ago | (#47491761)

protip: in matter of stimulation or penetration of the anus, no women will ever be displeased or shocked if instead of using fingers, you use your tongue

Need more thumbs (1)

brianerst (549609) | about 3 months ago | (#47485235)

That's interesting (if a little clumsy). I wonder if a different arrangement of digits would work better.

I'm thinking of placing an opposable thumb opposite the existing thumb (a mirror image of the existing thumb) and one on the base of the wrist pointing up which would curl up when the fingers curl down. Without modeling it, it would be hard to tell if the extra digits would get in the way too much, but they would greatly increase the ability to do certain types of grips.

(And why does Firefox seem to think opposable isn't a word?)

A waist mounted one would be cool (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 3 months ago | (#47485419)

It could have four multiple helper arms to assist you. You could read a paper without using your arms. Just avoid having any tragic accidents while wearing them.

Edward Keg-Hands, anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47485455)

Human progress will not be denied.

Very exciting tech (1)

soft_guy (534437) | about 3 months ago | (#47485535)

I have a child who has cerebral palsy and as a result has quite limited use of her right arm. Adding fingers to her left arm could maybe really benefit her.

Clapton (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 3 months ago | (#47485987)

Waiting for Eric Clapton to take this out on tour.

Not exactly what I pictured from the headline.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47486029)

I had a totally different image in my mind of what this would look like from reading the summary before clicking through and viewing the video. This looks more like adding pinchers around your hand than fingers. I envisioned something more glove-like that rather than having only 5 finger sockets, would have a place for your five biofingers with a mechanical "thumb" and "pinky" next to their biological analogs. Something like taking the thumb and pink off of this [uniroma1.it] and placing it around the edge of your hand instead of off of your wrist. All it needs to do is curl inward for grasping like your current fingers do. The trick would be, of course, getting it to respond to your muscle movement in a natural way.

Interesting technology! (2)

duke_cheetah2003 (862933) | about 3 months ago | (#47487025)

What caught my eye most about this invention is how much closer it brings us to operating HEAVY machinery by just moving our hands and the machine responds to our movements.

For me this brings exo-skeletal machines to mind as being much closer to reality, things like the loader from Aliens, the exo-combat skeletons in Matrix, etc. The applications of the tracking system exampled in the video are simply endless, from operating sci-fi constructs already mentioned, right down to more real machinery such as excavators, cranes and other construction machinery.

Looking forward to seeing who merges this stuff with heavy machinery first. ^.^

Finally (1)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | about 3 months ago | (#47487537)

Maybe now I can finally manage to play an F chord.

A step in the right direction (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | about 3 months ago | (#47487625)

They can get back to me on this when it's got THREE extra fingers...and a tongue.

;-)

Add three fingers per hand .... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 3 months ago | (#47488033)

... and we can count in hexadecimal.

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