This prototype robot hand is uses eight double-acting pneumatic actuators on each finger that can simulate an almost perfect range of human finger movement. That is undeniably cool until you realize the apparatus could easily crush objects without much effort.
Fortunately the makers of the ExoHand have thought that one through. In addition to providing the movement the glove needs to perform a task, operators of this robotic hand will also be able to receive feedback from the hand about the force they are employing when grabbing something.
That little feature makes it a little less scary.
The ExoHand is worn in two parts — the robot arm and the glove with the super sensitive actuators. Similar to other robotic exo-hands, operators move their arms naturally to provide input to the hand, and the actuators that corresponding to each joint of the finger enable the user to sense and grasp objects.
The two-way feedback mentioned above makes this robotic hand special however. The glove provides force feedback to the user so that as they are grasping an object, they have a sense of how hard their grasp is. Without that sensory perception, the user might accidentally crush an object.
This means the glove can be used in a wider variety of tasks — from more heavy duty to the very precise and delicate operations.
German robotics company, Festo is the creator of the ExoHand. While there's no doubt robotic hand could accomplish feats of strength if needed, the creator's vision for this complex glove is centered around its ability to be so precise.
Potential uses for the ExoHand could include use in dangerous laboratory or industrial settings where precise movement is required without exposing the user to as much risk.
Or, it could be used for those with repetitive stress syndrome or those dealing with the aftermath of a stroke. These users may not have as precise a grasp and the ExoHand could help with every day tasks in addition to rehabilitation.
The ExoHand is still at the very cool prototype phase. There's no word on whether the complex tool will be created for public use, but if it is it creates an entirely new future for people who could really use a helping hand.