Those wearing bionic hands and similar prostheses often suffer a frustrating disconnect when they can touch an object but can’t feel it, even if they’re using direct neural control. The École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and allies in Project TIME have developed a hand that could clear that psychological hurdle. The design implants electrodes directly in key nerves that not only allow motor input, but deliver real sensory feedback from the artificial appendage — including needle pokes, much to the test subject's chagrin. An early trial (seen above) kept the enhanced hand separate from the wearer and was limited to two sensations at once, but an upcoming trial will graft the hand on to a tester's arm for a month, with sensations coming from across much of the simulated hand. EPFL hopes to have a fully workable unit ready to test in two years' time, which likely can't come soon enough for amputees wanting more authentic physical contact.
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