Bionic Fingertips Would Have Improved Anakin's Experience
A bionic fingertip has been developed by neuroengineer Silvestro Micera and his team at Switzerland's Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and Italy's Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna. With it, humans can detect not just pressure, but texture as well.
To test the fingertip's effectiveness, the team enlisted Dennis Aabo Sørensen of Denmark, who lost his left hand 11 years ago handling fireworks. They connected the fingertip to nerves in his arm, using wires to integrate the sensors with his nerves. Because Sørensen had worked with the team previously on bionic prosthetic development, the interface with his ulnar and median nerves was already in place.
Then the fingertip was moved over pieces of plastic engraved with different patterns, some smooth, some rough. The sensors moved over the plastic, created an electrical signal and sent it to a PC to be interpreted into tactile information about the surface. This final signal was sent up the wires and into Sørensen's nerves. A blindfolded Sørensen then reported what he felt.
He was able to tell the difference between rough and smooth with 96 percent accuracy.
"The stimulation felt almost like what I would feel with my hand," he said in a statement. "I still feel my missing hand, it is always clenched in a fist. I felt the texture sensations at the tip of the index finger of my phantom hand."
Just imagine how much better Anakin's experience of his own wedding would be if this technology were available in a galaxy far, far away...
(Anakin Skywalker weds Padme Amidala)
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