Smart Hand is a highly innovative, interdisciplinary project, combining forefront research from material sciences, bio- and information technologies with cognitive neuroscience to solve a major societal problem, namely; the development of an artificial hand displaying all the basic features of a real human hand.
The overall scientific objective of the project is to develop an intelligent artificial hand that looks and feels like a real hand. This is a challenging and visionary goal. However, recent development in the field and several converging scientific areas make it possible to state that the perfect artificial hand is no longer a fantasy. SmartHand aims to integrate recent advances in nanobioscience, cognitive neuroscience and information technology in order to develop an intelligent artificial prosthetic hand with all basic features displayed by a real hand.
The basic idea of an artificial hand is old but has proven very complicated to fulfil. Recent/ongoing work in the field of hand prosthesis such as; The Artificial Hand, CyberHand and Freehand projects have contributed to progress in the field. The SmartHand project differs in focus and concept compared to these earlier projects.
The successful realisation of this highly visionary project requires crossing the boundaries of distinct scientific fields, to improve quality of life for disabilities by improving mobility and diminishing phantom pains associated with amputees. The Smart Hand prosthesis could have major impacts on rehabilitation of amputates. People that have lived through a traumatic amputation often encounter severe depressions as a result of a distorted self-image and fear of social rejection.
Unfortunately, phantom pains do not diminish with time. However, it has been shown that electrical stimulation of the nerves has had a positive effect. We believe that a neural interface with recording and stimulating capability could significantly improving quality of life by relieving phantom pains. Furthermore, the functional artificial hand could help to restore the self-image and increase the social acceptance by the user. An artificial hand, or the robotic hand that restore functionality, will be of great importance in the rehabilitation of disabled amputees.
Read more on the Smart Hand webpage: http://www.elmat.lth.se/~smarthand/ or see these references:
Antfolk C, Balkenius C, Rosén B, Lundborg G, and Sebelius F. (2010). SmartHand tactile display: a new concept for providing sensory feedback in hand prostheses. Scand J Plast Reconstr Surg Hand Surg. 44(1): 50-53.
Cipriani, C., Antfolk, C., Balkenius, C., Rosén, B., Lundborg, G. Carrozza, M. C. and Sebelius, F. (2009). A Novel Concept for a Prosthetic Hand with Bidirectional Non-Invasive Interface: A Feasibility Study. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 56, 11, 2739-2743.