In the what will they come up with next category, we have news Monday, July 21st, of a seven-fingered robot hand being developed by a team of engineers at MIT. This new robot hand adds two extra mechanical fingers to the human hand by using a glove device that includes the sixth and seventh “fingers” outside the thumb and pinky.

Robot hand

These additional fingers are much larger than human fingers, and can be controlled in synergy with your original five fingers through the glove. Although the device is still in the early prototype phase, the seven-fingered robot hand enables users to pick up heavy or bulky (or hot or cold) items they could not otherwise pick up with one hand.

Robotic extensions of the human body

Harry Asada, the Ford professor of engineering at MIT’s department of mechanical engineering and head of the robotic hand team, explains that the new technology could ultimately be seen as an extension of the human body.

“This is a completely intuitive and natural way to move your robotic fingers,” Asada said. “You do not need to command the robot, but simply move your fingers naturally. Then the robotic fingers react and assist your fingers.”

“We can shrink it down to one-third its size, and make it foldable,” Asada continued. “We could make this into a watch or a bracelet where the fingers pop up, and when the job is done, they come back into the watch. Wearable robots are a way to bring the robot closer to our daily life.”

Robot hand is useful for the disabled or elderly

One obvious and likely use for the new robot hand would be as a prosthetic or assisted living device for disabled individuals. Faye Wu, a mechanical engineering graduate student working with Asada, said that the device could be very important for the “elderly and people with disabilities,” making it possible for them to live more independently and enjoy a better quality of life.

Other possible uses for a coordinated robot hand include emergency rescue, lab or hazardous materials work and military applications.