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SA'S TOUCH HAND GOES GLOBAL!

Axiology Labs is proud to play a collaborative role in the Touch Hand project. We assisted Prof Riaan Stopforth (UKZN) and NMU Engineering by providing the hardware and software that converts EMG signal (Muscle activity) into electrical signals to control the hand.

Axiology Labs also donated the Bitalino boards that made it possible.



Overview

The AEDG Design team had been brought in to assist with upgrades to the Touch Hand project in preparation for a combined UKZN/NMU team's participation in the Cybathlon event originally intended for Zurich, Switzerland. The CoVid pandemic saw the event changed to an online event which was held in November at the Stopforth Research Lab at UKZN.

Up to this point, this collaborative project has seen an initial hand model designed and 3D printed (Mechatronics Masters: K Setty) with assistance from Rapid3D. This was then iterated by further design upgrades to its 4th Design iteration, most recently to also include electronics & control systems (Mechatronics Masters: K Purdon) over the last few years.

The Cybathlon event requires the participating team and their amputee team member to carry out 24 predetermined tasks across 6 stations utilizing the Touch Hand-Socket prosthetic to complete these tasks, against other competing teams from across the globe. The UKZN/NMU team are the only African entry, so not only represent South Africa but the entire continent of Africa in this exciting tournament.

The initial task of the AEDG Design team was to further enhance the current design to make the Touch Hand even more proficient at its upcoming tasks as required by the Cybathlon, some of which are as intricate as picking up a matchstick, unbuttoning a jacket and tying a shoelace!...a serious challenge indeed.

As 2020 played out, this blog diary will keep you up to date on the progress of these design enhancements...

Initial Status

The Touch Hand (select link to read more) in its various versions had been in existence over several years now up to the point when the AEDG Team came on board in February 2020 to fast-track the preparation into the Cybathlon, as per the original brief attached to the original Masters outputs.

Previous UKZN iterations have functioned and have been tested as shown in the following photo-montage as tested by Prof Stopforth in his facility, so the basic potential was there...


However, the status of the NMU device as handed over, was that it was in pieces, and it was not functional at all iro its proposed purpose, nor in any remote way was the device ready to complete any of the functions as required by the Cybathlon competition. It had not been tested locally with an amputee, nor could it be in its current state, and furthermore, no-one at NMU could say that they had seen the device operational! This was not what we expected when we came on board, so the challenge immediately had grown into a monster...

Project Diary