robotarm3A couple of weeks ago, we reported that car manufacturer had begun offering its workers 3D printed thumbs. This isn’t to replace thumbs lost during the course of work, but rather it acts as a support for the wearer’s thumb to prevent fatigue and also to help make them more efficient at their job.

Well it looks like the folks at MIT have come up with something similar, except that in this case, they have created a robotic glove that basically gives the wearer an additional thumb on both hands. According to Ford Professor of Engineering, Harry Asada, “You do not need to command the robot, but simply move your fingers naturally. Then the robotic fingers react and assist your fingers.”

It’s pretty clever in the sense that it will be able to know what you are planning to do, and based on that the extra digits will react accordingly, so if you’re trying to grab a bottle, the extra digits will try to lend a hand (or finger?). While it has its uses, the prototype at the moment is rather bulky, but the researchers believe that they will be able to slim it down in the future.

In fact Asada’s description of the final form of the device sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie. “We could make this into a watch or a bracelet where the fingers pop up, and when he job is done, they come back into the watch. Wearable robots are a way to bring the robot closer to our daily life.” Pretty cool stuff, huh?

Filed in Robots. Read more about mit.

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