Posted on August 30, 2015

Led by Dr John-John Cabibihan, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Qatar University College of Engineering (QU-CENG), an international team from Qatar, Singapore, Germany, and India is revolutionizing prosthetic hand design with their research on an “Illusory Sense of Human Touch from a Warm and Soft Artificial Hand”.

The study showed that an illusion of human touch can be created by a warm and soft artificial hand to the person being touched. When applied to prosthetic hands, these findings have a potential to help prosthesis users cope with the psychosocial effects of losing a part of their body. The study was published in IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering on May 2015 and was highlighted in an article on “The Truth about the Turing Test” on BBC Future on July 2015.

The team created an artificial hand by acquiring a detailed geometry of a human hand with computer tomography imaging, replicating its skeleton with 3D printing technologies, and substituting the skin tissue with a silicone material with lifelike softness. Beneath the soft skin are heaters that create perceptually acceptable warmth on the artificial skin’s surface.

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Commenting on the research, Dr Cabibihan said: “This cutting-edge research opens the possibilities for prosthetic and robotic hands that are lifelike and are more socially acceptable. It is just one of the many examples of the level of innovative research being conducted at the College of Engineering and its collaborative efforts with researchers from around the world in line with the College’s strategic plan and the institutional research roadmap.”

CENG dean Dr Rashid Alammari said: “This is one of the research activities in the college that highlights CENG’s core role in advancing technology for the greater good of society. It is the result of the committed vision of QU in general, and CENG in particular to address critical issues facing the community and seek sustainable solutions.”