WASHINGTON - European researchers are working to create a prosthetic hand with a sense of touch.

The prototype hand lets an amputee feel differences in the shape and hardness of different objects, and adjust his grasp in response.

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The patient got to experiment with the bulky prototype for a week, and it will take years of additional research before prosthetics that feel become a reality. But the research shows it's possible.

Swiss and Italian researchers surgically implanted tiny electrodes into nerves in the man's arm. They put sensors on two fingers of a robotic hand, then connected the two. The electrodes zapped the man's nerves in proportion to what the sensors touched -- so he could tell if objects were hard or soft or round.