What high-tech materials are required to make a robotic hand that can pick up almost anything? Coffee grounds and a latex balloon. The design comes from a team of researchers including Heinrich Jaeger of The University of Chicago and John Amend, who is now trying to sell these grippers through Empire Robotics
. But you can make your own at home with some simple materials. The only tricky-to-find object you'll need is a vacuum pump (I got mine here
, where you can also find an excellent instructional video).