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Robotics Hardware Science

Paralyzed Woman Uses Mind-Controlled Robot Arm 43

Posted by samzenpus
from the my-right-arm-is-a-smasher-like-the-trunk-of-a-tree dept.
MrSeb writes "Using BrainGate, the world's most advanced brain-computer interface, a woman with quadriplegia has used a mind-controlled robot arm to serve herself coffee — an act she hasn't been able to perform for 15 years. BrainGate, which is being developed by a team of American neuroscientists from Brown and Stanford universities, and is currently undergoing clinical trial, requires a computer chip to be implanted in the motor cortex of the patient, which it then transmits to a computer for processing. Like all brain-computer interfaces, the user must train the software — but once this is done, you simply think of a movement, and the software moves the robot accordingly. Moving forward, the researchers would like to miniaturize the system and make it wireless — at the moment, BrainGate users have a box attached to their head, and they're tethered to a computer — which is OK for robot arm use at home, but obviously doesn't grant much mobility. The work was partly funded by DARPA, with the hope of creating more advanced prosthetics for wounded war veterans." This comes on the heels of a 71-year-old man regaining motor function in his fingers after doctors rewired his nerves to bypass the damaged ones.
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Paralyzed Woman Uses Mind-Controlled Robot Arm

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  • by durrr (1316311) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @07:23PM (#40035375)

    This will end with a mind controlling robot army.

    • by durrr (1316311)

      Though seriously, this was done in monkeys a long time ago, it's about fucking time it happens for humans.

      Now we just need to take it a few steps further, and use a larger implant to get more bandwidth and from different regions, and implant it in healthy academics to computer-enchance their intellectual capacity in order to establish a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

      And if someone bothered to get that fucking optogenetics-for-humans-project off the fucking ground that would be splendid.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Why don't you do that?

        • by durrr (1316311)

          Because I still have three years left of medschool. But yeah sure, if it isn't solved after that I may put it on my achivement list second to paying of my student loans.

          • by geekoid (135745)

            OK, you want to do other things, but then you give an attitude that no one else will make the time.

            Why not start a company and do that. Use that to make your money to pay your loans.

      • by skids (119237)

        Though seriously, this was done in monkeys a long time ago, it's about fucking time it happens for humans.

        Well, had they picked a more decent FA to link you might have noticed that this actually is a report of results from a year ago, and moreover a major point of this study was to investigate brain implants that last a long time. That neurotransciever had been in her head for five years. The news here is that it still worked (and the publication of the study, where they describe the various components.)

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Now we just need to take it a few steps further, and use a larger implant to get more bandwidth and from different regions, and implant it in healthy academics to computer-enchance their intellectual capacity in order to establish a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

        Did I just get wooshed?

  • "The work was partly funded by DARPA, with the hope of creating more advanced prosthetics for wounded war veterans."

    Yeah, sure, that's what it's for, Mr. Sarin.
  • "Moving forward, the researchers would like to miniaturize the system and make it wireless"

    And that is the purpose of Braingate2: http://www.braingate2.org/ [braingate2.org]

    • [insert get-haxored-stop-punching-yourself jokes here]

      would be great to find a whistle in your cereal box that can make people's robotic arms slap themselves. or hand you money.
  • Maybe the 80s cyberpunk authors weren't so off the mark, between the economic recession (depression?) and this kind of medical/cybernetic development...

  • 20+ years ago... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Brad1138 (590148) <brad1138@yahoo.com> on Thursday May 17, 2012 @07:38PM (#40035561)
    20+ years ago, I saw an episode of a show "Beyond 2000". They had someone hooked up to electrodes of some sort, there was nothing implanted. She was controlling an avatar, in first person, in a 3D environment with her thoughts. I always thought if we could do that 20 years ago why, has it taken so long to see anything more. Even now, this really isn't any more impressive. If we could even control a mouse pointer and "click" with our mind it could be very useful. It wouldn't be much more to then be able to text with our minds, which then opens up a form of telepathy.

    I just wonder why this tech seems to have been stuck in its tracks for so long.
    • Re:20+ years ago... (Score:5, Informative)

      by virgnarus (1949790) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @08:00PM (#40035803)

      There's a lot of obstacles that need to be overcome that would ultimately explain the slow progression. First of all, the brain is still being understood, and continues to surprise scientists with how it operates. In addition to this, you also have the deal with the body's reaction to invasive brain implants like this one, which they are attempting to avoid through use of more bio-friendly materials to substitute the gold and silicon. There's a lot of studies being conducted on attempting to workaround this through less invasive or noninvasive interfaces (like the consumer brand Emotiv product), but signal output at these levels is very noisy and vague. Don't forget that research is fragmented on this as there's several ways to achieve the same goal, such as either a replacement limbs that moves on neural stimuli, or the use of an external robotic arm as seen here.

      Intel is now just getting serious about putting heavy money towards brain interface research, so it's good a big microchip computer like them are putting their vested interest in this, and that will indeed expedite the process, but there's just so much that's still left to be learned and all of it must come together in an affordable package. It's no different than quantum computers - researchers are learning more on the mechanics behind it while at the same time creating working products on what they've learned so far. Things are going to start rudimentary, yes, but one needs to be positive on this that there's actually progress being done.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      The thing is, they had a utopian society in that movie. I'd like my own surrogate! Bungee jumping without the bungee? Parachuting without fear of death or disability? Sounds good to me. Willis only destroyed the surrogates because his wife was a crazy bitch, and so was he.

      Odd how I never heard of that movie until I saw it at WalMart.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    35 year old work, rehashed because "it's got a computer!!!" The technology has never worked well because electrodes, whether the myocardial skin electrodes or the implanted ones of this new technology, wind up getting a tremendous amount of electrical noise from the area of the elctrode, and the noise is from similar signal electrode signals. To sort out the valid signals from all the noise takes about half a second: digital sampling does not help this, and is in fact counterproductive because it adds its o

  • Star Wars [wikia.com], but I guess baby steps are better than no steps.
  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @08:15PM (#40035949)

    During the early tests of this device one technician was knocked unconscious after repeatedly urging her to shout "Hand, pick up the ball!"

  • What year is it now? 2012? Hmm...this looks promising, but not quite what I want yet. Wake me up when I can have Doc Ock-like arms attached to me that will function in the obvious intended way (like extra natural arms).

    *back into cryogenic stasis*

  • by IonOtter (629215) on Thursday May 17, 2012 @08:16PM (#40035953) Homepage

    As it says in the article, it's totally worth seeing the look on her face.

  • I was serving myself free-trade coffee with a fixed-gear mind-controlled robotic arm BEFORE it was cool.
  • We all know what this research means... we are one step closer to creating Inspector Gadget.

  • The arm itself was developed by the robotics and mechatronics department of German Aerospace Center (DLR [www.dlr.de]) as explained by this article [scitechdaily.com]. The extremtech article fails to mention that.
  • We are the Borg...we are really thirsty ...we will drink your coffee ...resistance is futile.
    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      I am a 'borg, for real. I know other cyborgs IRL. Resistance is futile? When you need a cybernetic implant you'll not resist, you'll pay good money for it.

      Good attempt at humor, but "we are really thirsty" ruined the joke. Coffee doesn't quench your thirst. You should have said "we are really tired".

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