Nov 24, 2017 | By Benedict

Italy’s Youbionic has used 3D printing to create a bionic “Double Hand,” a robotic device worn on the wrist that doubles the wearer’s manual capacities. A fully assembled version of the device costs $2,100.

Ever find yourself with your hands full and wish you had an extra set of fingers? Perhaps you work in the service industry but hate balancing plates on your arms, or perhaps you just like buying multiple drinks at the bar.

Whatever your situation, Italian robotics company Youbionic has developed a weird and wonderful 3D printed solution to your problems: a Double Hand.

Activated by sensors worn on the user’s actual hand, the 3D printed Double Hand effectively doubles one’s manual capacities by replicating natural hand movements across two individual bionic hands.

Of course, these PLA 3D printed hands aren’t quite as dextrous as your own, but you can actually control each bionic hand individually by making finger movements: your index and middle fingers can open and close one bionic hand, while your ring finger and pinky control the other one.

That probably means you can’t do anything much more complex than gripping and lifting sturdy objects, but even that function alone could be useful in many situations.

Youbionic, however, is being highly ambitious, saying the Double Hand is the first step in evolving ourselves from regular humans to “augmented humans,” with the Double Hand able to be used by, for example, astronauts repairing the International Space Station.

It’s worth noting that, although the Double Hand is 3D printed, it isn’t open source. You have to buy the bionic device for $2,100, while the digital files for the wrist support alone cost $58.

Nonetheless, it’s intriguing to see how Youbionic used 3D printing to arrive at their design. Federico Ciccarese, Founder of Youbionic, told 3ders that all Youbionic devices are designed using Rhinoceros and printed in PLA on a Flashforge Creator Pro 3D printer.

It wasn’t a simple case of coming up with a quick design and churning it out on the Flashforge though. Ciccarese says he went through four prototypes, trying to figure out how to make the hand look sufficiently real, before settling on the current model.

Eventually, the Youbionic chief happened upon the ideal shape and position for the fingers, and is now able to create an entire Double Hand in three days: two days for printing, one day for assembly.

He’s even created a left and right version, so users can technically use four hands at once.

But if you thought having four 3D printed hands was impressive, just wait til you hear what Youbionic has in store in the future. According to Ciccarese, we’ll soon be treated to an entire “humanoid,” which will include the current 3D printed hands plus many more augmented body parts.

The Youbionic founder thinks this kind of augmented body technology is the natural accompaniment to augmented vision, i.e. AR and VR technology, with both kinds of augmentation helping humans perform complex tasks to a higher standard.

A final important matter to note concerns the target recipients of this bionic technology. The 3D printed Double Hand is, of course, designed for wearers who have a functioning hand of their own, since real finger movements prompt movements in the 3D printed device.

But Youbionic has also developed a bionic single hand for those who do not have a hand of their own. This will come as a relief to those who believe that bionic research should largely be dedicated to those who can benefit from it the most.

Youbionic’s single hand, which is designed for amputees and other users, uses electrodes to detect muscle signals in the wearer’s arm, converting those signals into artificial hand movements. We wrote about the versatile 3D printed hand last year.

Ciccarese even foresees a future in which users can update their bionic limb in the same way they update their smartphones.

See Youbionic’s work here.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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