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Bionic hands that feel

Invention Number: 
Bionic limbs with sensory feedback developed by UNSW researchers, will provide patients with a more sensitive and enhanced feeling of touch.

The invention

Artificial limbs may be needed for a variety of reasons; following trauma, neoplasia and vascular or infectious diseases. The growing global aging population and subsequent rise in the prevalence of these diseases are expected to further increase the need for artificial limbs.

However, existing prosthesis are not satisfactory for users. Prosthesis use decreases by 20-30%, especially due to the lack of functionality, comfort, appearance and sensory feedback.

There is a need to develop bionic limbs providing sensory feedback to users of artificial limbs and other assistive / haptic devices.

This invention includes stimulus patterns, systems and methods to enable controlled evocation of vibration frequency and intensity for bionic limbs and haptic devices; key aspects of the sense of touch. The invention also addresses how to selectively stimulate a single type of tactile sensory receptors. 

Bionic limbs with sensory feedback using this technology shall provide patients with a closer feeling of touch and a better quality of life.

Key Benefits

  • Single system that allows mechanical and electrical sensation with the same voltage level
  • Selective stimulation of one single type of tactile sensory receptors

Potential Applications 

  • Prosthesis with sensory feedback
  • Tele sensory devices
  • Haptic communication devices
  • Brain-machine interfaces

The Opportunity

UNSW is seeking a partner to licence this technology or to work with the researchers to further develop this technology. A provisional patent application has been filed (application 2015905036) in December 2015.  

Researcher and Technical Details 

Dr Ingvars Birznieks and Dr Richard Vickery