- Swiss and Italian researchers successfully implanted electrodes in the upper arm of an amputee, allowing him to sense rough and smooth textures through a bionic fingertip attached to his stump.
- The amputee, Dennis Aabo Sørensen, is the first person ever to gain this ability.
- Results of the research were published yesterday in the journal eLife.
The fingertip works by mimicking the nervous system’s response to different textures and sending that information to the nerves. While blindfolded, Sørensen was able to detect roughness and smoothness 96% of the time, Reuters reported.
“The touching sensations is quite close to when you feel it with your normal finger; you can feel the coarseness of the plates, and the different gaps and ribs,” Sørensen said in a press release issued by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, one of the research groups involved in the project. The other was the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Italy.
To see if the sensations picked up by the bionic fingertip matched those of a real finger, the researchers tested it on nonamputees as well, comparing brain activity when an object was touched with the bionic device and with their own finger. The responses were similar.
The technology may also have applications for touch-enabled prosthetics and artificial touch in surgical robots, the researchers said.