Research into prototypes developed for a biomimetic finger—meant to imitate a natural finger—has focused on creating the feel of a natural human grip. Observation of patients’ use of prosthetic hands laid the groundwork for University of Hartford’s master’s graduate Casey Beasley, with the direction of assistant professor Michael Wininger, to develop 12 different prototypes since last summer.

The prototypes contain a “fat pad simulant,” which adds cushion and makes the prosthetic more life-like. The researchers also incorporated a soft tissue that helps fingers grasp objects. The phalangeal segments, or bones, in the finger are adjustable so that the fit can be easily customized, while still making it possible to mass-manufacture them.

Recently, Beasley’s classmates Derek Becker, Joseph Cassella, and Stephen Sousa came onboard the project. Beasley’s first ideas came from her interest in both science and art. She felt prosthetics and orthotics were a great way to combine her two passions.