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Current prosthetic hands are basically simple grippers with one or two degrees of freedom, which barely restore the capability of the thumb-index pinch. Although most amputees consider this performance as acceptable for usual tasks, there is ample room for improvement by exploiting recent progresses in mechatronic design and technology. This paper focus on an innovative approach for the design and development of prosthetic hands based on underactuated mechanisms. Furthermore, it describes the development and a preliminary analysis of a first prototype of an underactuated prosthetic hand.