Biomedical Robotics and Biomicrosystems Lab

OPENHAND – OPEN neuro-prosthetic HAND platform for clinical trials


Objectives and Methodology


The OPENHAND project is aimed at addressing the scientific problem of functional substitution between natural and artificial hand, by developing an open neuro-prosthesis platform to be clinically evaluated by means of different neural interfaces (intraneural, Cuff, etc). In other words the OPENHAND objective is to investigate, design and develop a revolutionary prosthetic hand duplicating the natural model in shape, functionality, sensorization, control and perception. The main objective is to carry on the research of the previous PRIN/SAFEHAND project, exploit past results and concentrate on its critical issues.

In particular OPENHAND proposes to originally address the following scientific issues:

a) design, development and evaluate the neural electronic interface for the conditioning of the efferent signals and afferent stimulation delivery;

b) investigate, design and test a biomechatronic transradial hand prototype integrating the actuation, sensory and low-level control systems;

c) investigate the technology and fabrication techniques of an artificial sensorized skin to cover the biomechatronic hand;

d) investigate the human fingers generation and coordination mechanisms, and develop of a bio-inspired control architecture able to duplicate them on a prosthetic hand both in the afferent and efferent channels. The control system will operate between the neural interface and the biomechatronic prosthesis. In the efferent pattern it will generate and coordinate the motion of the fingers based on the neural signal classification. In the afferent pattern it will generate appropriate stimulation patterns based on the decoding of the artificial sensors.


Project outputs


The OPENHAND project will be integrated within an ongoing clinical framework aimed at testing experimentally a new cybernetic hand prosthesis that will:

1) be controlled in a natural way by processing the efferent neural signals coming from the central nervous system (reducing the discomfort of the current EMG-based control prosthesis);

2) be felt by an amputee as the lost natural limb delivering a natural sensory feedback by means of the stimulation of some specific afferent nerves;

3) allow to perform most of the grips useful in activities of daily living;

4) cosmetically acceptable.

The final result will be an anthropomorphic hand endowed with actuators, an advanced sensorial system intimately connected to the human nervous system by means of a neural interface implanted in the peripheral nerves and able to exchange motor efferent commands (from the central nervous system, CNS to the peripheral one, PNS) and sensorial afferent signals (from PNS to CNS).


The consortium of the project consists of 3 partners, from Italy:

  1. Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (SSSA)
  2. The Laboratory of Biomedical Robotics and Biomicrosystems of the University Campus Bio-Medico (UCBM) of Rome
  3. The Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering of University of Cagliari (UNICA)


This project has been funded by the Italian Ministry of Research under the PRIN 2008 OPENHAND Project prot. PMZT2Z.

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