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    Low-Tech Prosthetic Hand Design Is Highly Effective

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    Geo Beats

    by Geo Beats

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    A new kind of low tech prosthetic hand called the Versaball has been released commercially by Empire Robotic.

    A new kind of low tech prosthetic hand called the Versaball has been released commercially by Empire Robotic.

    Researchers from the University of Chicago and Cornell University worked together to design and create the Versaball, which uses a robotic universal jamming gripper to pick up objects.

    Originally designed using a balloon filled with coffee grounds, now that it is available commercially the materials have changed to a granular material and a rubber ball.

    The user presses the soft pliable ball onto the object they want to lift provided it weighs less than 20 pounds.

    The squashy ball forms around the item, and when a vacuum inside the prosthetic sucks the air out, it hardens to grip and lift it. Simple yet effective.

    According to John Amend, Empire Robotics' chief technology officer and a mechanical engineer: “These are jobs where you don't really care what your hand looks like but it's nothing you'd want to wear to dinner.”

    Although the applications of the Versaball are primarily industrial, it could potentially have more uses in military robotics or as a prosthetic hand.