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Paralyzed man gives Obama a fist-bump with mind-controlled robotic hand

This is historic.


Austin Powell


Posted on Oct 14, 2016   Updated on May 25, 2021, 7:23 pm CDT

President Obama has been known to give a fist bump now and again, but nothing quite like what occurred Thursday in Pittsburgh for the White House Frontiers Conference. 

The president bumped fists with Nathan Copeland via his mind-controlled robotic hand. 

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center helped develop a prosthetic hand for Copeland, who was paralyzed in a car accident in 2004, that allows him to feel electrical sensations and essentially “move his hand with his brain,” as Obama put it. It’s incredible to see the precision at work. 

“I can feel just about every finger. It’s a really weird sensation,” Copeland said in a statement. “Sometimes it feels electrical and sometimes it’s pressure, but for the most part, I can tell most of the fingers with definite precision. … It feels like my fingers are getting touched or pushed.”

Researchers detailed the process in a new study in Science Translational Process, noting that this approach “could be used to convey information about contact location and pressure necessary for prosthetic hands to interact with objects.” 

H/T NBC News

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*First Published: Oct 14, 2016, 3:50 pm CDT