Twenty-seven bones, 27 joints, more than 30 muscles and over 100 ligaments make up the human hand. Coordinating these components with our brain and nervous system, hands are capable of doing amazing things. One thing scientists have not yet been able to do with their own brains and hands, however, is design an effective prosthesis for the thousands of people affected by upper limb loss.

“There are many [prosthetic] hands developed by research that are beautiful engineering masterpieces. The problem is, they often don’t get out of the lab,” says Marco Santello, a professor of biomedical engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. “There is a huge gap between building something very elegant and sophisticated a something that someone would like to use in daily activities.”

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