In a UCLA School of Engineering lab, a mechanical hand only one millimeter wide plucks a single fish egg from an underwater clutch. “It is the world’s smallest robotic hand and could be used to perform microsurgery,” says Chang-Jin Kim, who led its development. Unlike other tiny machines of its kind, the device (depicted at left) is flexible yet strong and is controlled by air, not electricity. The microhand has four “fingers” made of several pieces of silicon each, with polymer balloons serving as “muscles” at the joints. Each balloon is connected to narrow channels through which air is pumped. When a balloon is inflated or deflated, the angle between joints changes, making a finger contract or relax. The device is one to two years from practical use; Kim is working with a company to develop a new version, with optical fibers on the palm–a microhand with an eye–that would enable a doctor to see, allowing better control during an operation.
Watch the hand detach a fish egg.
DeepMind’s cofounder: Generative AI is just a phase. What’s next is interactive AI.
“This is a profound moment in the history of technology,” says Mustafa Suleyman.
What to know about this autumn’s covid vaccines
New variants will pose a challenge, but early signs suggest the shots will still boost antibody responses.
Human-plus-AI solutions mitigate security threats
With the right human oversight, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence can help keep business and customer data secure
Next slide, please: A brief history of the corporate presentation
From million-dollar slide shows to Steve Jobs’s introduction of the iPhone, a bit of show business never hurt plain old business.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.