C.1 Source Acquisition

I chose to explore the human hand because I always found it remarkable that the hand can be used for so much. I play the violin and have recently taken up rock climbing. These two activities demonstrated two factors about the human hand that most fascinated me, its capacity for precision and its ability to handle different holds and surfaces and apply force appropriately.

Overarching Question: “How can the human hand be able to handle objects of different shapes and have precise spatial movements? How can a robot reproduce this capacity?”

Various Search Results

Since I am completely new to the field, I started with very general, and not necessarily scientific searches to get an idea of what is publically known to the layman and to get an idea of what some of the key words might be. Thus, I started with Google.com and Wikipedia.

Using the terms and articles I found, I then proceeded to check the scientific integrity of the information by looking for some of the same articles on Scopus, ISI, Google Scholar, and Pubmed.

Google.com and Wikipedia Search Results

I googled biomimetic hand and surprisingly, the first two hits were scientific articles [1][2]. These were conference sources. Since I do not have a good sense of the quality of the conference and literature resulting from it, I decided to look for other papers. However, these two articles helped me to begin to see some of the current scientific problems in the field. Also, since these devices are often targeted towards prosthesis, they sought to very exactly copy the physiology of the human hand. This also helped me narrow my interest to the problem of grasp.

Scopus Search Results

I searched using the keywords "biomimetic hand grasp". I first sorted by date so that I could see the latest developments first to get a general idea of where the field is at. The first article [3] was very recent but it was a university press paper. The design had many of the features as that mentioned in the previous papers. In general it had low SJR (0.032) and SNIP (0.150), which could in part be attributed to the fact that it only started in 2005. The second most recent article was [4].

The Scopus search turned up a mere 10 hits. The article with the most citations had 22 citations and dated back to 1999 [5]. I considered that I was being two narrow with the search so I changed the keywords to some of the keywords associated with [4] such as "grip control". This resulted in slightly more search results.

ISI Search Results

Searched using keywords Topic = (biomimetic OR bioinspired) AND (grasp OR grip OR motor) AND hand AND control. The first hit was [4]. When I sorted by times cited, two articles arose, one still by Wettels as first author. This article [7] was sited 10 times. The other article [6] was sited 12 times.

Google Scholar Search Results

Search gave similar results as Google.com and Scopus.

PubMed Search Results

Search using keywords: (biomimetic* OR bioinspir*) AND hand AND control AND (motor OR grasp OR grip). Search returned 6 results. Only one [8] was really recent enough to be considered. Then chose more biological search terms. Searching hand grasp control versatility resulted in two articles. One was an interesting evaluation of grasping in frogs [9]. Searched grasping tactile sensing gave me additional interesting articles [10]

C.1.0) Source

The main article in questions for this consideration is [4]. It was published in IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics. Though I could not find this in the ISI JCR, it had moderately good SNIP(3.620) and low SJR (0.101).

The paper is concerned with tactile sensing in relation to hand grasping. To quote, it serves as a "proof-of concept for controlling the grasp of an anthropomorphic mechatronic prosthetic hand by using a biomimetic tactile sensor, Bayesian inference, and simple algorithms for estimation and control. The sensor takes advantage of its compliant mechanics to provide a triaxial force sensing end-effector for grasp control."

Thus, my claims and fact checking sources could talk about force sensing in animals and grasp mechanisms.

C.1.1) Venue

I will now show that the venue is appropriate

Mission and Scope of Journal

The stated aim and scope was: "It encompasses all practical aspects of the theory and methods of mechatronics, the synergetic integration of mechanical engineering with electronic and intelligent computer control in the design and manufacture of industrial products and processes. The ten technical areas included are: Modeling and Design, Manufacturing, Motion Control, System Integration, Vibration and Noise Control, Actuators and Sensors, Micro Devices and Opto-Electronics Systems, Intelligent Control, Automotive Systems, Robotics, and Other Applications."

Since A robotic hand involves most of the technical areas, this is an appropriate publication location.

Relative Impact Factor

Though I could not find this in the ISI JCR, it had moderately good SNIP(3.620) and low SJR (0.101).

C.1.2) Authors' Qualifications

The authors were all from the University of California and came from three different departments: BME, EE, and CS. This corresponds with the coverage of the paper. The senior author Gaurav S. Sukhatme, the last name on the paper has a Scopus h index of 28 which is relatively high. He has 184 documents associated and 2259 citations. Another senior author on this paper was Gerald E. Loeb who has an Scopus h index of 21, over 197 documents (name was divided into three categories), and 2104 citations.

C.1.3) Source Identification Methods

Consultation with Librarian: Used search methods listed above. Commentary: "off to a good start here. You developed and modified your search strategy with appropriate terms. Keep on the lookout for new ones that can help further focus your search. Given your area of interest, a topic like haptics may be of interest to you (we have an expert in the area on the faculty in the MEAM department, Katherine Kuchenbecker, who can be an excellent resource). Other possible keywords as you examine different aspects of your project may include terrain, materials selection, method of control, power source, weight, other components for your system such as actuators, sensors or the like, etc."

C.1.4) High Quality Bioinspired Robotics Contribution

The paper offers new algorithms and suggests sensing mechanisms to estimate "normal and tangential force" based on information about the orientation of the hand. The author presumes in the conclusion that : "the human brain performs a similar generalized solution to extract the information it needs from the ensemble of individual cutaneous receptors in biological skin" and thus is trying to replicate what he perceives as biological mechanisms.

C.1.5) General Robotics Literature

Quality of Sources

[7] was published in Advanced Robotics. This journal was shown by ISI JCR to have an impact factor of 0.629, and a five year impact factor of 0.800 and an Article Influence Score of 0.229.

[10] was published in Biological Cybernetics. This had an impact factor of 1.697 and a 5year impact factor of 2.098 on ISI JCR 2009 edition.

Checking Claims via Two Additional Quality Sources

[7] Possibly since this is from the same first author, the claims are directly supported. Here Wettels offers an array design that can be used to input tactile information and supports the intuitive notion that tactile responses about sheer, strain, and different forces would be important to formulating suitable grip.

[10] This article supports the need to find alternative to current solutions in that tactile information is not processed ideally and thus, supports the main article's claim for a more simple and effective algorithm.

C.1.6) Biology Literature

[9] was only cited by 1 Pubmed Central article on frog jumping locomotion. However, the journal seems reasonably well established. It is published in the Journal of Anatomy which on ISI JRC had an impact factor of 2.134, a 5 year impact factor of 2.779.

[6] was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. This had a much higher impact factor of 7.178 and a 5 year impact factor of 7.930 with and Article Influence score of 3.425.

Generating More Evidence from the Biological Literature

[9] This article is not directly related to human grasp as the other articles address but it offers an interesting insight into the different variety of grasping mechanisms that may be used in biomimetic grasping mechanism and even implemented in human prosthesis. It could suggest that the forearm design could be altered to aid in gripping.

[6] This article, published in a high impact journal, shows that research has been done to determine the neural basis of grasping mechanisms and further illustrates the gap between robotics and biology, stating that existing devices "lacking the critical somatosensory feedback from sensory receptors in the muscles, skin, and joints of the moving limb."


1. S.Y. Jung, S.K. Kang, and I. Moon, "Design of biomimetic hand prostesis with tendon-driven five fingers", Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics. BioRob. 2nd IEEE RAS & EMBS International Conference. 2008.
2. S. Lee, S. Noh, Y. Lee, and J.H. Park, "Using Parallel Mechanisms", Proceedings of the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Biomimetics. 2009.
3. X.Q. Wang, Y.W. Liu, L. Jiang, D.P. Yang, N. Li, H. Liu, and H. Huang, "Design and control of a coupling mechanism-based prosthetic hand", Journal of Shanghai Jiaotong University (Science). Vol 15, Issue 5, Pages 571-577. 2010.
4. N. Wettels, A.R. Parnandi, J.H. Moon, G.E. Loeb, and G.S. Sukhatme, "Grip control using biomimetic tactile sensing systems", IEEE/ASME Transactions on Mechatronics. Vol 14, Issue 6, Pages 718-723. 2009.
5. R.L. Abboudi, C.A. Glass, N.A. Newby, J.A. Flint, and W. Craelius, "A biomimetic controller for a multifinger prosthesis", IEEE Transactions on Rehabilitation Engineering. Vol 7, Issue 2, Pages 121-129. 1999.
6. A.H. Fagg, N.G. Hatsopoulos, V. de Lafuente, et al., "Biomimetic brain machine interfaces for the control of movement", Journal of Neuroscience. Vol 27, Issue 44, Pages 11842-11846. 2007.
7. N. Wettels, V.J. Santos, R.S. Johansson, G.E. Loeb, "Biomimetic tactile sensor array", Advanced Robotics. Vol. 44, Issue 8, Pages 829-849. 2008.
8. K. Ganguly, L. Secundo, G. Ranade, et al. "Cortical representation of ipsilateral arm movements in monkey and man", J Neurosci. Vol 29, Issue 41, Pages 12948-56. 2009.
9. A.S. Manzano, V. Abdala, A. Herrel, "Morphology and function of the forelimb in arboreal frogs: specializations for grasping ability?", J Anat. Vol 213, Issue 3, Page 296-307. 2008.
10. L. Ascari, U. Bertocchi, P. Corradi, et al. "Bio-inspired grasp control in a robotic hand with massive sensorial input." Biol Cybern. Vol. 100, Issue 2, Pages 109-28. 2009.