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Updated: April 17, 2010 21:01 IST

Robotic hand to allow people to hold hands over internet

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In this file photo amputee Pierpaolo Petruzziello touches a robotic hand during a press conference in Rome. Scientists said it marked the first time an amputee has been able to make complex movements using his mind to control a biomechanic hand connected to his nervous system. File Photo: AP
In this file photo amputee Pierpaolo Petruzziello touches a robotic hand during a press conference in Rome. Scientists said it marked the first time an amputee has been able to make complex movements using his mind to control a biomechanic hand connected to his nervous system. File Photo: AP

Specially-designed robotic hands would soon allow friends and family to hold hands over the internet and help them experience the sensation of touch.

It plugs into a computer and communicates with an electronic wristband to allow people talking over the internet to experience the sensation of touch.

Not only can it grip and shake, but also give the signs for ‘OK’ and ‘peace’ The robotic hand, which was unveiled at an international technology expo in Hong Kong this week, is expected to go on sale later this year, Daily Mail reported.

The tool was developed by scientists at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

It works by using the electrical impulses generated by muscles as they contract. The signals are picked up by a sensor which sends signals to the computer that uses software to turn it into muscle movements.

The information is transmitted over the internet to the receiving computer, where the signals are translated into instructions for the robotic hand that carries out the same hand movement, the media report said.

Liu Yunhui, a professor who led the team of researchers, said the robotic hand is able to almost instantly imitate the original motion of the human hand and offer the feeling of touch.

“At this moment the function is not perfect and it can{gt}t copy exactly, partly because the robot hand is different from the human hand in terms of the degree of freedom of movement it has,” Liu was quoted as saying.

The original intention of the research team had been to develop something which could help the elderly keep in touch with their families, he said.

“Although they can show their care through phone calls, physical touch is still a better way to express love. With the system, elderly people and their children and grandchildren can touch and hold hands via the internet and show affection directly.”

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