Scientists in Leeds create bionic hand with help from Star Wars

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A NEW BIONIC hand inspired by legendary sci-fi film Star Wars could help amputees feel the force.

Top scientists in Leeds are using futuristic engineering to create a state-of-the-art bionic hand – similar to Luke Skywalker’s.

The £1.4million project is being carried out by experts at the University of Leeds, who will create prosthetic limbs that can sense pressure and temperature.

Electrodes inside the innovative bionic limb will wrap around the nerve endings in the arm.

This would mean for the first time, the hand could communicate directly with the brain – a major advance in the field of prosthetics.

If successful, it could become available for amputees.

Dr Rory O’Connor is senior lecturer in rehabilitation medicine at the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Medicine and Health.

He said: “These are not pie-in-the-sky ideas. We start work now and have the challenge of delivering workable devices in three years.

“The current designs are like a plug and socket.

“Patients tell us they want something more intuitive [which] closely replicates the natural movement and feel of a real hand.

“That is what we hope to achieve.”

In a separate project, another team will develop a pair of ‘smart trousers’ with artificial ‘muscles’ in its fabric to support the movement of disabled and older people.

The projects are part of a £5.3million programme to transform the design of assistive and rehabilitative devices.

Dr Paul Steenson, senior lecturer at the university’s School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, said: “We need microelectrodes made from flexible plastics that do not damage the tissue.

“We need to build these connections at a minute scale – the diameter of the nerves can be smaller than the width of a human hair.”