Passive properties of the human hands, defined by the joint stiffness and damping, play an important role in hand biomechanics and neuromuscular control. Introduction of mechanical element that generates humanlike passive properties in a robotic form may lead to improved grasping and manipulation abilities of the next generation of robotic hands. This paper presents a novel mechanism, which is designed to conduct experiments with the human subjects in order to develop mathematical models of the passive properties at the metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint. We designed a motor-driven system that integrates with a noninvasive and infrared motion capture system, and can control and record the MCP joint angle, angular velocity, and passive forces of the MCP joint in the index finger. A total of 19 subjects participated in the experiments. The modular and adjustable design was suitable for variant sizes of the human hands. Sample results of the viscoelastic moment, hysteresis loop, and complex module are presented in the paper. We also carried out an error analysis and a statistical test to validate the reliability and repeatability of the mechanism. The results show that the mechanism can precisely collect kinematic and kinetic data during static and dynamic tests, thus allowing us to further understand the insights of passive properties of the human hand joints. The viscoelastic behavior of the MCP joint showed a nonlinear dependency on the frequency. It implies that the elastic and viscous component of the hand joint coordinate to adapt to the external loading based on the applied frequency. The findings derived from the experiments with the mechanism can provide important guidelines for design of humanlike compliance of the robotic hands.

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