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Biotech Robotics

Man Controls Cybernetic Hand With Thoughts 81

MaryBethP writes "Scientists in Italy announced Wednesday that Pierpaolo Petruzziello, a 26-year-old Italian who had lost his left forearm in a car accident, was successfully linked to an artificial limb that was controlled by electrodes implanted in his arm and connected to the median and ulnar nerves. He has learned to control the artificial limb with his mind. According to CNet, Petruzziello says he could feel sensations in it, as if the lost arm had grown back again. The BBC has a brief video showing the arm in operation."
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Man Controls Cybernetic Hand With Thoughts

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  • Yes, yes, yes! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 05, 2009 @03:22AM (#30333280)


    So anyhow, sweet. Amazed at the sensations part just as much if not more than the mental control. How sure can we be it's not just something like phantom limb syndrome? I assume they've done the whole behind a curtain "am I touching your hand" type dealie?

  • Not there yet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @03:49AM (#30333368) Homepage Journal

    Looking at the video and articles it seems they haven't integrated the whole thing into an artificial hand attached to his arm. The hand he controls is shown separately from his body. Perhaps the unit is too heavy at the moment.

    So Ratz can't have his russian military seven function force feedback manipulator just yet.

  • Optional extras (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Geminii ( 954348 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @04:03AM (#30333414)

    Could be interesting to outfit it with PDA/smartphone/net capabilities linked to a couple of extra feedback wires. You'd be able to develop electronic senses such as orientation, absolute location, driving directions to a destination, knowing when someone had sent you an email, and the direction and distance of practically anything with a Whitepages/Yellowpages entry.

    For bonus points, equip your car with a GPS+intertial tracker and cellphone, and you'll be able to find it anywhere on the planet to within a couple of dozen feet. Add in a radio transmitter which can pick up and replicate signals from things like car keys, and you'll be able to find it within that dozen feet, too.

    I'm thinking - what about being able to put the hand into virtual mode, so that wrist and finger gestures aren't expressed by the mechanical hardware but are instead used as input to an interface linked to a bunch of macros for the electronics? Add an IR transmitter/recorder, point at the TV, go virtual, and sign the macro for switching on, calling up your favorite channel, and turning up the volume. Or with an IRDA channel, be able to send macro signals to your PC to do whatever you want. Heck, go the whole hog and install WiFi, Bluetooth, a USB port, an acoustic coupler... you'd have the most connected hand on the planet!

  • Re:Yes, yes, yes! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 19thNervousBreakdown ( 768619 ) <davec-slashdot AT lepertheory DOT net> on Saturday December 05, 2009 @04:21AM (#30333468) Homepage

    Well, they didn't give us any information about tha, nor whether or not there is a feedback system, but let's consider the feasibility: I'm no EE, but wouldn't there be some sort of change in resistance or ... something ... as the motors experienced load? I'm not sure the signal would transmit through relays or whatever they're using, but short of a specifically designed feedback system, is it possible, or likely? The nervous system operates on very low power, I know that much, so is there any sort of signal it could get and potentially interpret?

  • Re:Not there yet (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jartan ( 219704 ) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @09:48AM (#30334524)

    Sounds like the purpose of the test was to test the actual electrode interface and how complex the hand motions could get with it. The duration the electrodes stayed in his arm is the important part. With this test it seems complex cybernetic limbs are basically a done deal. The question is whether or not they can actually hook them up long term without serious rejection problems.

  • Re:Optional extras (Score:2, Interesting)

    by unus.sapiens ( 971836 ) on Sunday December 06, 2009 @03:36AM (#30341716) Homepage
    If you start adding lots of functionality you would have to get some serious security, otherwise you might find that people start controlling your hand, or giving you bursts of pain.

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