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June 28, 2018

Synthetic skin can restore a richer sense of touch to prosthetic limb users.



Bringing touch to prosthetic hands. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Prosthetic hands are great at gripping, but not so good at providing a sense of touch. That’s partly because touch is so complicated– it conveys not only contact, but texture, pressure, temperature and pain. In the journal Science Robotics, Johns Hopkins biomedical engineer Luke Osborn describes a technology called eDermis that covers a robotic hand’s surface with sensors that carry information to nerves in the user’s upper arm that once led to the hand.

LUKE OSBORN (Johns Hopkins School of Medicine):

And what’s particularly interesting is that we’re able to detect, say, ¬†object’s curvature, and so we can differentiate between something that’s nice and rounded versus something that’s very sharp and pointy, and that’s what lets us differentiate between something that’s painful or not.


Future version will add more sensors, to provide a fuller touch experience. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon