While we don’t normally consider them much until they are injured, our hands are extremely complex and multifunctional, allowing us to carry out the numerous tasks of our day. Truly then, the evolving nature of bionic hands is amazing, getting closer and closer to mimicking the real thing. Saarland University is developing a bionic hand with bundles of smart wires that mimic the bundles of muscle fibers that comprise our muscles. In addition, these bionic hands have sensors built into the wires, much like our our own muscles, which have a ‘shape memory’ and can make precise movements similar to our own hands. This is a huge step toward solving the mechanical problem in prosthetics of trying to match the fine motor movements of a regular anatomical hand.

Though there is no official site for this product yet, the university outlined some of the amazing features of their project in a press release. The combined ‘shape memory’ and bundling of the smart wires also allows heat to be dissipated faster throughout the muscle-like complex, and as heat is energy this allows faster and more precise movements in the hand. The built in sensors in the smart wires also have a position sense, much like the receptors in our own hands that detect a change in position. This is how we know what position our hand is in without having to look at it. These small, but important features are the reason why this project, when it moves forward from the prototype phase, will provide great benefit for its users.