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Robotics Science

Huge Leap Forward In Robotic Limb Replacement 153

Posted by kdawson
from the arms-and-the-man dept.
BlueshiftVFX sends us to Wired for some video of the impressive, mind-controlled prosthetic robot arm invented by Dean Kamen. "Kamen's arm, dubbed 'Luke' (after Skywalker, I assume), is an incredibly sophisticated bit of engineering that's lightyears ahead of the clamping 'claws' that many amputees are forced to use today. The arm is fully articulated, giving the user the same degrees of movement as a natural arm, and is sensitive enough to pick up a piece of paper, a wineglass, or even a grape without mishap."
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Huge Leap Forward In Robotic Limb Replacement

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  • Woo... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Izabael_DaJinn (1231856) * <slashdot@i[ ]ael.com ['zab' in gap]> on Sunday June 01, 2008 @05:46PM (#23620439) Homepage Journal
    You guys should be excited. Think about what this will do for the pen1s enlarg3m3nt industry.

    Not only would they be "fully articulated" in the bedroom they would also be "sensitive enough" to pick up flowers & wine beforehand.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Or, if the arm runs Windows, the penis repairment industry.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You guys should be excited. Think about what this will do for the pen1s enlarg3m3nt industry.


      Not only would they be "fully articulated" in the bedroom they would also be "sensitive enough" to pick up flowers & wine beforehand.

      They are way ahead of you. Check under the "Third Leg" link on the article's page. There's video.
    • Re:Woo... (Score:4, Funny)

      by LrdDimwit (1133419) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @07:56PM (#23621411)
      Perhaps it's just me, but I am generally using other body parts to pick up the flowers and the wine.
    • Not only would they be "fully articulated" in the bedroom they would also be "sensitive enough" to pick up flowers & wine beforehand.
      So this is a huge grope forward, not a huge leap forward as the title suggests.
    • by schwit1 (797399)
      If somebody hacked into it that might give a whole new meaning to the term rootkit.
    • It's been done.... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bones3D_mac (324952)
      Have you never seen the incredibly bad B-flick "Space Truckers"? It pretty much defines robo-penis to a fault.
  • by s4m7 (519684) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @06:04PM (#23620561) Homepage
    Dean Kamen is Finally Back to Inventing Useful Things
    • by bfl (619363) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @08:18PM (#23621575)
      Invented by Dean Kaman is a bit of an exaggeration. The arm is the result of a DARPA project overseen by Deka, and involving a laundry list of partners including the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the University of New Brunswick. See here [www.unb.ca] for the UNB page about the project.
      • by HEbGb (6544)
        Correct. Attaching Kamen's name to it is a smart marketing move, and good press fodder. A nice demo though, we'll see if this becomes practical and cost effective.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Geak (790376)
      The sad thing is, something like this should have been invented a long time ago. We've had the technology and the ability to do it for years, and at the very least Star Wars or the Bionic Man/Woman should have inspired someone to build this. I'd be willing to bet someone has designed and built a prosthetic arm like this a long time ago, but insurance companies have probably worked very hard to keep it from ever getting to market or any publicity.
      • by RsG (809189) on Monday June 02, 2008 @02:18AM (#23623701)
        Why would you assume that?

        I mean first up, why the insurance industry? Second, what makes you think anyone has the clout to repress this sort of technology?

        Robot limbs that operate at or near the human level have a multitude of uses beyond just prosthetics. Offhand, I can think of hazardous material handling, remote surgery, bomb disposal, space exploration - basically anywhere you want a human hand, and don't want the mess that comes with having a warm body in the immediate area.

        If you're right, and the potential to build just such a device has existed for years, then everyone from NASA to the nuclear industry would be all over it. Against that, those pissants in insurance don't stand a chance.

        Plus, there's a fairly strong military interest in the prosthetic angle. There are plenty of war-vet amputees who'd benefit, giving DARPA both a practical and a PR benefit if they demonstrated a working model.

        I just don't see it happening yet. Note the "leap forward" phrasing - this is still below the level of a bionic hand that can adequately replace the flesh and blood version. We're nowhere near the star wars/bionic man level. I mean, we'll get there, and probably within my lifetime and yours, but stuff like nerve-computer connections and effective tactile senses are still in their infancy.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by redxxx (1194349)
          Of course, it isn't any sort of leap forward, and anyone who has been paying attention to the industry would see that like most new bits of technology, it is part of a long gradual development progress.

          Since about 2000 they've been making real progress in control systems, and impoverishment in material engineering have allowed for more lifelike prosthetic. Better electronics have made everything smaller.

          They've finally put both together into something that can be used by patients, without lugging around a m
    • by CAIMLAS (41445)
      Yeah, and at this point, a more appropriate slashdot icon would be the terminator (T800) metal head/arm.
  • :-( Insurance (Score:5, Informative)

    by lantastik (877247) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @06:05PM (#23620569)
    I can't tell you how excited I would be if any insurance company on the planet would actually pay for this. I have a friend who lost his left arm fighting in the name of our country. So far three different insurance carriers have all denied him any kind of advanced prosthetic. It's sad...
    • Re::-( Insurance (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @06:13PM (#23620643)

      I can't tell you how excited I would be if any insurance company on the planet would actually pay for this. I have a friend who lost his left arm fighting in the name of our country. So far three different insurance carriers have all denied him any kind of advanced prosthetic. It's sad...
      Are you in the US? If he was in the military, why is he dealing with insurance carriers at all?

      And are you saying he has triple coverage through three different companies?

      • Re::-( Insurance (Score:5, Informative)

        by s4m7 (519684) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @06:22PM (#23620703) Homepage

        If he was in the military, why is he dealing with insurance carriers at all?

        Yes because VA hospitals are great and there's always room in them. They just hand out whatever care you want because you Served Your Country.

        No seriously the republicans just blocked the expansion of VA benefits.

        • Re::-( Insurance (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mazarin5 (309432) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @06:34PM (#23620793) Journal
          Hell, my father is just now getting treatment for problems caused by his stint in Vietnam!
        • Yeah, you just have to look at the top-notch facilities at Walter Ree... oh, wait...
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Yes because VA hospitals are great and there's always room in them. They just hand out whatever care you want because you Served Your Country.

          I agree with the general sentiment you've expressed; but you don't have the logistics quite correct. The VA system and the military health system are largely separate, somewhat parallel organizations (when my career military father fell ill with a terminal illness, I learned a lot about this). That's part of the problem - the reduncancy of these two hugely bureaucratic systems. The VA is supposed to be there for exactly this situation; but the military also has its own rehab and long-term care programs. In

        • No seriously the republicans just blocked the expansion of VA benefits.
          "See. Nationalized healthcare will never work. Look at the VA."

          Republicans love using that line. I really hate to trollbait, but the right-wing attempts to sabotage anything remotely resembling "socialism" are becoming increasingly destructive, especially when they're fighting for the continuation of a bloody war, and simultaneously fighting against providing the VA with adequate funding.
          • by s4m7 (519684)
            Now, I agree with you so the rest of this post may shock you a little. The democrats are just as bad. They don't do anything good either, and if they do, it's so overpriced that it winds up being a net bad. Impeachment is off the table? No really, we support the troops too? FFS our government is stale and needs to be thrown out like moldy bread.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by purpleraison (1042004)
      He is entitled to treatment from the Veterans Administration if he was in the U.S. military when he lost it. If he is not being treated, then the best recourse would be to file a complaint with the Veterans Administration and/or to his local Senator (or other political schmuck).

      By default, when you outprocess from active duty, all conditions that were treated while on active duty may be considered for continuing treatment and disability payment.

      There are also lawyers who help veterans get access to these be
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by conlaw (983784)
        No, based on experiences I have witnessed, the best first contact is your local American Legion, VFW or DAV representative. He or she knows exactly how the system works and how to get your needs met. They often have an office in the VA Hospital and title something like Service Liaison or something else equally unmemorable.
    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      Yeah so much for all of that "support the troops" patriotic nonsense that gets thrown around at so called "unpatriotic" Americans.

      We've got pro ball players playing children's games for a living and a fraction of their salaries combined would help fit our wounded soldiers with things like this, or supply them with whatever special care.

      This country is despicable sometimes. We have the right blaming the left that they're not supporting the troops... We have the government lieing about reasons for war... We h
    • Re::-( Insurance (Score:5, Informative)

      by couchslug (175151) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @06:54PM (#23620935)
      "I have a friend who lost his left arm fighting in the name of our country. So far three different insurance carriers have all denied him any kind of advanced prosthetic. It's sad..."

      I'm a vet and I smell trollage. "name of our country" - WTF?? Branch of service would do for a start.

      No private carrier would even be involved with a combat injury, and actual denial of care would be grounds
      for calling up the VA chain of command with a parallel chat with local and state elected officials. The VA has
      screwed up but there are plenty of folks willing to raise a stink in behalf of a legit claim. Join the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) for a start.
      • by ystar (898731)
        Maybe it was someone working as a US mercenary for a private company such as Blackwater? I know nothing about their coverage policies but I would hazard that they're much worse than veteran care.
        • by c6gunner (950153)

          Maybe it was someone working as a US mercenary for a private company such as Blackwater?

          In which case he wasn't fighting for his country, he was fighting for a paycheque. Mercs have their uses, and a lot of them are really good guys (hell, I almost took a job with them in Bosnia back in 2000) but I wouldn't put them in the same class as soldiers. If he's having issues with the medical system I certainly feel some sympathy, but it's not the governments job to look after him.

      • Re::-( Insurance (Score:5, Interesting)

        by lantastik (877247) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @11:43PM (#23622885)

        I'm a vet and I smell trollage. "name of our country" - WTF?? Branch of service would do for a start.
        Marine Corps, honorably discharged in 1992 after the first war in Iraq. My comment had nothing to do with trolling. It's sad that he had to lose his arm performing a completely selfless act for his country.

        The most he ever received from the VA was a limb with a hook on the end. The three insurance carriers are from his three different employers from then until now.

        What makes you think his insurance carriers are not responsible for a pre-existing condition when his prosthetic needs replaced or is damaged? Sure they replace it, but not with anything worth a damn.
        • by couchslug (175151)
          Time to get in the VAs posterior and reattack with help. The basic limbs available after 1992 were probably the standard muscle-actuated "hook"-like clamps. Things being different now it would be worth pursuing.
          Unfortunately the VA isn't going to seek out older folks to give them upgrades, so that's up to the individual and his veterans organization rep. Don't even think about pursuing it alone. The DAV for example has many experienced folks with system knowledge and human networks gained over years of inte
  • by empaler (130732) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @06:05PM (#23620573) Journal
    That snippet really sums up the quality of the linked article.
    In both the linked pages from the Wired article, it is explained in the first paragraph that, yes, this is inspired by Luke's prosthetic hand. All Things Digital article [allthingsd.com], Gizmodo article [gizmodo.com].
    • No Fair! (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You're not supposed to RTFA before you post. It could have been from Cool Hand Luke.

      "What we've got here is a failure to communicate."
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @06:06PM (#23620577)
    How long until the government mandates that these must have HRM on them (Human Rights Management) which would make it impossible to do certain "illegal" things. For example if it doesn't think you are 21 you can't pick up a beer bottle or a wine glass, it wouldn't let you pull a trigger of a gun, nor wield a knife defensively. Now, this technology is still 25-75 years off before it could actually be used, but could it be that in 150 years you would have to have your normal arms either amputated or modified to support Human Rights Management?
    • by nawcom (941663)
      Human Rights Management? Oh, you're talking the Patriot Act?
    • by maxume (22995) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @06:18PM (#23620665)
      If you live in a democracy, start thinking of yourself as part of the government. Then, society mandates things and they seem even stupider.

      Sure, something can call itself a democracy and not be a democracy, but if you don't at least think of it as a democracy, it sure as hell isn't ever going to be one.
    • by vertinox (846076)
      How long until the government mandates that these must have HRM on them (Human Rights Management) which would make it impossible to do certain "illegal" things.

      Thats why you buy your cyberware on the Northern Territories black markets. Of course you can't just take a full on cyborg body and rob a bank without drawing the attention of Section 9.

      But more seriously, HRM as you describe it would require some sort of Strong AI which if we had... It might cause the current governmental system to be a moot point.
    • by cashman73 (855518)
      Nah! In 150 years, all citizens will be required to be implanted with the equivalent of the V-chip" directly into their brains. It will basically prevent any type of "illegal" behavior, as well as control the masses into voting for more candidates like Dubya and Hillary,...

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @06:08PM (#23620599)
    Why only have an elbow and wrist and five fingers? Why not make an articulated arm that has more 'elbow' joints and two opposing digits (read: thumbs). If the brain isn't used to controlling 6 finger/digits, could it learn the task? Surely a wrist that could rotate 180degrees in either direction would be better than our current design.

    • by s4m7 (519684) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @06:19PM (#23620675) Homepage
      I've wondered about this: if the technology improved to the point where you could feel all the sensations with a prosthetic arm as with your original arm, but the materials were stronger, faster and more flexible, why not replace them voluntarily?
      • maintenance costs, and problems with magnets/security scanners probably!
      • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @06:39PM (#23620835)
        If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

        (Besides, the technology is just too new.)
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Rangsk (681047)
        This reminds me of the Star Trek: TNG episode, "The Measure of a Man"

        Quote taken from: http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0001459/quotes [imdb.com]

        Capt. Picard: Data, I understand your objections. But I have to consider Star Fleet's interests. What if Commander Maddox is correct - there is a possibility that many more beings like yourself can be constructed?
        Lt. Commander Data: Sir, Lieutenant La Forge's eyes are far superior to human biological eyes, true?
        Capt. Picard: Mm-hmm.
        Lt. Commander Data: Then why are not all huma
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bperkins (12056)
        This issue was very thoughtfully covered in Strong Bad Email 47 [homestarrunner.com].
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dlevitan (132062)

        I've wondered about this: if the technology improved to the point where you could feel all the sensations with a prosthetic arm as with your original arm, but the materials were stronger, faster and more flexible, why not replace them voluntarily?

        I think a good reason would be power requirements. All prosthetics I believe require batteries. I suppose you could have enough batteries that you could just charge your arms and legs overnight. But, quite frankly, I feel powerless enough when I can't see anything when I first wake up. Not having any arms would be even worse.

        If anything, I think that concentrating on either exoskeletons (as has been reported in recent articles) or maybe on strengthening the body itself with implants would be much more prod

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by barzok (26681)
        Because body part replacement is a bitch and something you do because you have to, not because you want to. My father recently had his hip replaced because he took an odd fall - his femur broke just below the ball, and the given his relatively young age and activity level, a full Titanium replacement (ball and socket) was deemed to be the best option for him. The bones were in perfect condition, he just landed on it in such a way that it broke.

        He's going to have some degree of limp for the rest of his days
      • Would you put your brain in a robot body? An Adrian Barbobot? With the strength of ten gorillas! There go my nipples again...
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by IdeaMan (216340)
        I took robotics in college.

        The human arm is an absolute marvel of engineering. The number of degrees of freedom, the range of motion, the sensitivity of its sensors, the amount of control it has are phenomenal. When you build an arm that can beat a human arm that I can afford to replace when it wears out (mine repairs itself), please let me know.
        Otherwise I'm in the market for another pair of arms tied to a lower body exoskeleton capable of lifting a couple thousand pounds.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Why only have an elbow and wrist and five fingers? Why not make an articulated arm that has more 'elbow' joints and two opposing digits (read: thumbs). If the brain isn't used to controlling 6 finger/digits, could it learn the task? Surely a wrist that could rotate 180degrees in either direction would be better than our current design.

      The glaringly obvious answer is that people want to appear and function just like a "normal" person, and would prefer not to be stared at while they're picking out apples in the grocery department.

      • by Yetihehe (971185)
        Yeah, with those jerky motions (see in video, assuming final version will be covered with skin and look like normal hand) no one would stare...
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Hal_Porter (817932)

        Why only have an elbow and wrist and five fingers? Why not make an articulated arm that has more 'elbow' joints and two opposing digits (read: thumbs). If the brain isn't used to controlling 6 finger/digits, could it learn the task? Surely a wrist that could rotate 180degrees in either direction would be better than our current design.

        The glaringly obvious answer is that people want to appear and function just like a "normal" person, and would prefer not to be stared at while they're picking out apples in the grocery department.

        Yeah but I could pick up the other shoppers and throw them hundreds of feet if they stared at me. I AM IRONMAN.

      • by Smidge204 (605297) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @07:02PM (#23620993) Journal
        I'm sure most people would just want their old arm back.

        But honestly? If I'm getting an artificial body part I want an upgrade. Artificial arms need "Inspector Gadget" type tools built into them. artificial legs need built-in roller blades or "kangaroo boot" springs. Artificial eyes need video-in jacks, zoom and swappable IR vision filters.

        I'm not sure I'd have a perfectly good body part removed for one - especially at this stage in tech - but if anything happens and I'm getting it anyway...
        =Smidge=
    • by maxume (22995)
      Range of motion->complexity->cost->doh!.
    • I imagine it's much harder than you may think to pick up a control scheme for a part of your body that's not only never existed on your body, but never existed in the history of your species.

      But, more to the point, I think they ought to focus on the basics before adding on extra fingers and elbows ;)
      • by Zarf (5735) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @07:08PM (#23621047) Journal

        I imagine it's much harder than you may think to pick up a control scheme for a part of your body that's not only never existed on your body, but never existed in the history of your species.

        But, more to the point, I think they ought to focus on the basics before adding on extra fingers and elbows ;)
        Actually, I'd like to test this hypothesis. I'll bet we'll be shocked to find out that it's actually easy for people who are young enough. I know, that's counter-intuitive, but I suspect that the reason there is a yawning chasm between generations and their use of technology is not that old folks are Luddites but that some folks can't adapt to the mental augmentation that is the exo-cortex of the Internet.

        Notice that we don't see this chasm in older baby-boomers. I think that means we won't see another gaping technology chasm between generations. The computers are here now and brains are adapting to them. Other threads on slashdot have discussed the idea that computer programs become mental extensions just as tools become extensions of people's bodies. Stories of ancient knights speak of warriors fighting until they could not tell their arms from their swords.

        So I'd bet that using that "mental extension into the tool" effect you really could find ways to add on novel new cybernetic body-parts and that the brains of mammals are actually adaptive enough to deal with it. I think this will be true because of the structure of mammal brains and its ability to re-wire itself.

        After all don't you wince when you hit something in your car? Some people even exclaim "ouch" as if they were themselves hurt. I suspect it's an artifact of being able to use tools that enables us to tack on a tool as a "temporary body part"
        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          Actually, I'd like to test this hypothesis. I'll bet we'll be shocked to find out that it's actually easy for people who are young enough. I know, that's counter-intuitive,...
          ...
          So I'd bet that using that "mental extension into the tool" effect you really could find ways to add on novel new cybernetic body-parts and that the brains of mammals are actually adaptive enough to deal with it. I think this will be true because of the structure of mammal brains and its ability to re-wire itself.

          You'd have to graft those cybernetic body-parts onto children for it to be "easy for people who are young enough".

          The only reason the adult brain can re-wire itself to deal with prosthetics is because some poor guy/girl has to undergo months and months of painful physical therapy. It's not quite so simple as strapping on their (robo) limb and telling them to have at it.

          • by Zarf (5735)

            Actually, I'd like to test this hypothesis. I'll bet we'll be shocked to find out that it's actually easy for people who are young enough. I know, that's counter-intuitive,... ...
            So I'd bet that using that "mental extension into the tool" effect you really could find ways to add on novel new cybernetic body-parts and that the brains of mammals are actually adaptive enough to deal with it. I think this will be true because of the structure of mammal brains and its ability to re-wire itself.

            You'd have to graft those cybernetic body-parts onto children for it to be "easy for people who are young enough".

            The only reason the adult brain can re-wire itself to deal with prosthetics is because some poor guy/girl has to undergo months and months of painful physical therapy. It's not quite so simple as strapping on their (robo) limb and telling them to have at it.

            Do you play video games? Have you played a fighter? When you screen character kicks or punches do you think: up,down,left,left,A,B,A or do you think "round house"

            I find that younger players don't even think about the "combo" they think about the move after having practiced the combo enough times. These old guys with the strap-on arms are doing the same thing with lots and lots of practice.

            In fact on one of the deep link videos the researchers show evidence that one of the wearers had gotten so used to the

        • They've done unorthodox "input": sense augmentation. Sight by tongue-mounted electrodes, magneto-sensing, orientation-enhancement (ie for fighter pilots, divers). It works, you don't have to be young, and the brain figures it out pretty darn fast: the extra sense gets integrated and feels natural(ish). I would reckon having an extra digit or wheels or something would be very similar.
          • by Zarf (5735)

            They've done unorthodox "input": sense augmentation. Sight by tongue-mounted electrodes, magneto-sensing, orientation-enhancement (ie for fighter pilots, divers). It works, you don't have to be young, and the brain figures it out pretty darn fast: the extra sense gets integrated and feels natural(ish). I would reckon having an extra digit or wheels or something would be very similar.
            That's really fascinating stuff!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mikael (484)
      With "reinnervation", they graft the nerves that used to lead to the arm/hand/fingers and reattach them to the chest muscles. Electrodes in the base of the prosthesis pick up these electrical signals and use them to move the arm. It would be possible to reassign different signals to different arm movements, but you won't be able to control any more muscles than you had before.

      Maybe with electrodes implanted in the brain this would be possible - people were able to control a cursor with their thoughts. But i
    • by gnuman99 (746007)
      Humans have enough problems controlling motor functions of what we have. If we have more control joints, I highly suspect it would not work out so well without additional pre-processing. But regardless, perfecting the simplest apparatus is probably the first step. Once this is perfected (give or take a decade), we'll see augmentations that will start to supersede all human capabilities. Baby steps at a time though. Science and knowledge is all baby steps.
    • by mugnyte (203225)
      Well hell, why even have it connected to your body?

      Or why stop at one?

      Or why keep it local? Camera/VR helmet and remote arm(s), you can perform physical work from afar.

      Or why keep it immobile...maybe Dean offers a discount if you get the Segway Attachment (codename "R2")

      Or why stop at human physiology? Might be nice to attach a drill/laser/etc to the arm.

      IOW, let the creative minds of a thousand comic writers since the 50's be unleashed!

      ---
      hey everyone, don
    • I don't know, but I bet it could do a darn good rensdition of Skynrd's "Freebird". Especially that widdly-widdly bit at the end that goes on a bit too long.
  • What a bad pun =]
  • by markk (35828) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @06:29PM (#23620767)
    So can this be adapted with some work to control real limbs of quadraplegics and paraplegics? Seems like something that could be done with some kind of muscle or nerve stimulation. One could imagine a direct stimulation of nerves in the arm based on this kind of signals. A person could actually "teach" the system to get some kind of use of limbs - even if there is no feeling.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Grym (725290) *

      So can this be adapted with some work to control real limbs of quadraplegics and paraplegics? Seems like something that could be done with some kind of muscle or nerve stimulation. One could imagine a direct stimulation of nerves in the arm based on this kind of signals. A person could actually "teach" the system to get some kind of use of limbs - even if there is no feeling.

      It's not that simple. In the case of a quadriplegic with complete spinal transection, for instance, the spinal reflexes would still

  • luke (Score:4, Funny)

    by rubycodez (864176) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @06:36PM (#23620809)
    not named for skywalker, it longs for freedom even as its ordered to dig and fill a hole again and again and wins egg eating contests.
  • This is pretty old news now. I did a presentation over the current state of robotics in limb prosthesis back in January and this along with bluetooth-capable prosthetic legs had been around for a bit already.
  • Dean Kamen is a real-life Tony Stark
  • Mecha on the moon (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zarf (5735) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @06:53PM (#23620927) Journal
    Am I the only one that sees this as an exciting new way to control giant robots and Mecha? One of the demo videos shows an engineer who has not lost an arm controlling the device as a third arm. That could mean the creation of a real-life Doctor Octopus ... or even a way to control real life Mecha or telerobotic space exploration systems for mining the moon!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Robert1 (513674)
      Yes you are. When I think of miniaturized wearable prosthetics I don't think about how exciting it would be to control giant robots or "Mecha," whatever that is. Also, had you actually watched the video, they tell you the guy with the 3rd arm had it controlled by someone off camera. Regardless, some actual info about your statement:

      Yeah, that's not new at all. Surgeons have been using remote robotics for YEARS to do micro-surgery. Recently they've even started to do telesurgery, where the surgeon experience
      • by Zarf (5735)

        Yeah, that's not new at all. Surgeons have been using remote robotics for YEARS to do micro-surgery. Recently they've even started to do telesurgery, where the surgeon experienced in one particular procedure lives half way around the world and uses a robotic interface to work with the robot in the operating room thousands of miles away.
        ... yes, but are they using direct brain input? The arm has multiple modes of operation. Not just the joystick mode. It also has macros.
    • by Renraku (518261)
      As far as extra limbs go, we're only set up in hardware to be able to control two of something. Left brain controls right arm, right brain controls left arm. There's no doubt in my mind that the brain has the capability and plasticity to learn to control a new limb, bit it could very well cost you dexterity or strength in one of your existing arms.

      Upgrading existing limbs would be a whole lot easier on the brain and body than adding new ones. Imagine a 360 degree wrist, for example. Or typing fingers a
  • I'd like to see what what of these arms would look like if they could add an artificial silicone skin that other companies have developed.
  • lightyears (Score:2, Funny)

    by Digitus1337 (671442)
    How many lightyears until we can see these things in stores?
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Sunday June 01, 2008 @08:10PM (#23621511)
    Artificial limbs won't truly be kick-ass until they're better than the organic limbs they replace. And they need to make that reverb sproinging sound whenever they do something cool.
  • pattipace7@yahoo.com (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pattipace (1300117)
    Is the normal weight of the missing limb factored into the design? I am a 50 year old disabled vet and most of the vets I see are only comfortable for a period of time with the prosthetic. Since 1991 I have carried the dead weight of my right hand around. The last seven years has also included the dead weight of my right arm and shoulder. My neck and whole spine is bent to the right now. I would feel much better if I knew this new generation of Veterans would get prosthetics that they will be able to
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SlashWombat (1227578)
      In the second video, it was stated that the arm weight was modeled on a womens arm. I think 8.8 pounds was the stated figure, which does not seem like much considering the arm appears to offer the same range of movements as a normal arm.

      I was a bit curious that the nerves were wired to chest muscles ... A bionic ear (cochlea implant) used to use a small rubbery gadget with 64 "needles" that would prick into the aural nerve when the rubber was wraped around it. (which gave 32 channels to excite that bundl
  • Sorta creepy seeing that patient's flap of a deltoid muscle flapping around. What does a patient without a deltoid muscle do for shoulder movement? Wish they would explain how the electronics actually work, but that's what China's for, isn't it.

  • "Hey, it really DOES feel like somebody else!"

  • ...with the exciting servo motor sounds to give a real feel for the technology:

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/82 [ted.com]

    The last two minutes have the arm demo video. The rest is classic Kamen.
  • This technology (the nerve grafting to muscles and subsequent use for prosthetic control) was origionally developed at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago by a Dr. Kuiken. See http://www.ric.org/aboutus/mediacenter/press/2006/12112006.aspx [ric.org]

    It looks like Kamen's guy went above the "off the shelf" part phase of Kuiken and developed a complete electromechanical system (i.e. did some cool robotics / DAQ and used it instead of Kuiken's robotics).So, I don't know that this is a "huge breakthrough", but rather

How many QA engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 3: 1 to screw it in and 2 to say "I told you so" when it doesn't work.

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