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Multi-Modal Fingertip Sensors for Prosthetic Hand Control and Feedback

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: National Institutes of Health
Contract: 1R41EB032723-01
Agency Tracking Number: R41EB032723
Amount: $276,835.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Solicitation Topic Code: NIBIB
Solicitation Number: PA20-261
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2021
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2021-09-21
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2022-08-31
Small Business Information
Longmont, CO 80503-9070
United States
DUNS: 080319380
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 (720) 600-4753
Business Contact
Phone: (720) 600-4753
Research Institution
BOULDER, CO 80303-1058
United States

 Nonprofit College or University

Multi-Modal Fingertip Sensors for Prosthetic HandControl and FeedbackPROJECT SUMMARY / ABSTRACT
The goal of the proposed project is to develop a robust, multi-modal prosthetic fingertip sensor – the Point Touch
– which 1) has a patented multi-modal sensing capability including measurement of proximity, contact, and force
and 2) can augment myoelectric control methods using semi-autonomous control algorithms. The Point Touch
is the next product in Point Designs’ product road map, which began with the Point Digit, a full finger mechanical
prosthesis. Since the commercial launch of the Point Digit in 2017, over 1200 digits have been delivered to more
than 470 patients. Through our extensive academic and commercial research collaborations we uncovered an
opportunity to utilize our multi-modal prosthetic fingertip sensor to improve myoelectric
control of prosthetic hands. To answer the frequent request for a fingertip sensor, we will complete the
development of the Point Touch through this funding opportunity. Completion of this project will result in a
multi-modal fingertip sensor specifically designed to augment existing myoelectric control methods and lay a
foundation to restore the sense of touch.
The care of people with upper limb amputations requires a highly individualized approach. Prosthetists and
occupational therapists work with each patient to provide a personalized medical solution using whatever
components and technologies are available on the open market. Very often, the bottleneck in this system is the
availability of clinically sound prosthetic components that can be readily sourced by the prosthetists to provide
an optimal prosthetic limb system.
Today, prosthetic hands are numb. They provide no somatosensory feedback to the user. However, we know
that the sensory information provided by the hand is critical to our dexterous capabilities. Many research groups
have made great progress in the development of peripheral nerve interfaces and have begun several in-human
trials around the world. However, current commercial prosthetic hands cannot measure the interactions with
the unconstrained external environment; there are short- and long-term clinical needs for commercially viable
prosthetic fingertips.
In this Phase 1 effort we propose to 1) perform a User Needs assessment followed by verification through
mechanical tests, and 2) enhance existing myoelectric control techniques using the innovative proximity and
force sensing capabilities of the Point Touch. This short-term implementation of the Point Touch technology
will improve myoelectric control techniques and reduce cognitive burden for users of prosthetic hands. The
Phase 1 effort will build towards a larger Phase II project which will test the Point Touch and its algorithmic
capabilities in a clinical trial of patients with peripheral nerve interfaces. Combined, these efforts will establish
the Point Touch as the leading candidate of prosthetic finger technology to be ready for the commercialization of
peripheral nerve interfaces and the restoration of the sense of touch.PROJECT NARRATIVE
Approximately 60,000 people live with major upper limb amputations in the United States and amputation of
the hand can cause physical, psychosocial, and economic damage to an individual. Research teams are
developing neural interfaces to restores the sense of touch, but there is a void of durable and reliable fingertip
sensors to measure the interactions of the prosthetic devices. In this project, Point Designs LLC proposes to
develop and commercialize a robust, multi-modal fingertip sensor that can be installed on commercially
available prosthetic hands for advanced control techniques and the future restoration of the sense of touch.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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