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C. Piazza, C. Della Santina, M.G. Catalano, G. Grioli, M. Garabini, A. Bicchi: "SoftHand Pro-D: Matching dynamic content of natural user commands with hand embodiment for enhanced prosthesis control"

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State of the art of hand prosthetics is divided between simple and reliable gripper-like systems and sophisticate hi-tech poly-articular hands which tend to be complex both in their design and for the patient to operate. In this paper, we introduce the idea of decoding different movement intentions of the patient using the dynamic frequency content of the control signals in a natural way. We move a step further showing how this idea can be embedded in the mechanics of an underactuated soft hand by using only passive damping components. In particular we devise a method to design the hand hardware to obtain a given desired motion. This method, that we call of the dynamic synergies, builds on the theory of linear descriptor systems, and is based on the division of the hand movement in a slow and a fast components. We use this method to evolve the design of the Pisa/IIT SoftHand in a prototype prosthesis which, while still having 19 degrees of freedom and just one motor, can move along two different synergistic directions of motion (and combinations of the two), to perform either a pinch or a power grasp. Preliminary experimental results are presented, demonstrating the effectiveness of the proposed design.