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Medicine Robotics

Man With Quadriplegia Controls Robot Arm With Mind 70

awtbfb writes "Tim Hemmes, with the help of University of Pittsburgh researchers, successfully controlled a robot arm in three dimensions. He's had quadriplegia for seven years. The feat was accomplished using implanted ECoG electrodes and weeks of computer training. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 'Ever since his accident, Mr. Hemmes said, he's had the goal of hugging his daughter Jaylei.' Next up are six more 30-day participants, followed by a year-long study."
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Man With Quadriplegia Controls Robot Arm With Mind

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  • The last few stories have left me with the sensation that technology has been totallyv appropriated by the nanny state morons.

    Please tell me this arm doesn't squeel back to the fbi if it thinks it is being used for "inappropriate touching" or somthing. That would ruin it.

    Whatever happened to technology serving humanity? (And no, I don't mean serving the legal papers.)

    Back on topic, does the neural grid arraay cause neural scarring like other BCEs?

    • "Ever since his accident, Mr. Hemmes said, he's had the goal of hugging his daughter Jaylei"

      i'm imagining a horror ending here where the robot arms are just way too powerful.

      i'm a bad person.

    • For your last question, I'd think not. ECoG is just metal on the cortex. Damage? Probably. But it's not inserted into the cortex, so you get way worse signal initially. It's advantage is signal doesn't deteriorate over time.
    • I only wish if a guy were to make some ground breaking research which will get such media attention, that he would have been dressed a little nicer. I am not saying suite and tie type of thing. But not like a punk kid from the 1990's. I mean he is 30 years old. He should dress like an adult.

      • by Alioth ( 221270 )

        Who gives a flying fsck how he dresses? He could be in a cheerleader's outfit for all I care. The important thing is the results, not how the quadraplegic test participant is dressed.

      • by tragedy ( 27079 )

        You are aware that this guy is a quadriplegic, right? He doesn't dress himself, and the clothes he wears are probably mostly selected for bagginess to make them easier to take off and put on. Also, he probably has a lot of trouble maintaining body temperature, so he has to wear layers as well as headwear to keep warm.

  • Dear Science:

    As soon as you possibly can, please install four Doc-Ock-like arms on my back, to be controlled in the manner described in this story.


    • This just came for you:

      Dear icannotthinkofaname,

      I'm on it, buddy.


      P.S. Stop anthropomorphizing me.

  • I for one welcome our new....screw it, this one's too easy.
  • and before you know it the super soldiers will be hear.

    • with their super ears?

    • and before you know it the super soldiers will be hear.

      "hear" Yep, deaf super soldiers will now hear robotically!

    • Screw supersoldiers. What about all the REAL soldiers that have arms and legs blown off? I'm certain that they would find this technology hugely liberating. ... of course, the best way to avoid all this is to avoid stupid pointless un-winnable guerilla warfare (with the US as the 'occupation') in fundamentalist Islamic countries, but hey. At least we can help those who have been injured.

    • It won't be a super-soldiers thing as much as a cost-savings thing...

      Instead of giving them a discharge and pensioning them out, we can just neural-implant any severely crippled soldiers and retain them as the 'drone operations corps'.

      At American military hospital facilities around the world, row after row of shattered bodies, surgically wired into data links from the world's warzones, will mentally pit America's drones against its enemies...

      In case that doesn't strike you as sufficiently dystopian
      • by artor3 ( 1344997 )

        That's a great setup for a scifi flick, but it suffers from fridge logic. If we can create mind-controlled drones, why would we have wounded veterans control them? Why not just train perfectly healthy people to control these things, without ever sending them into harms way? Heck, we're already doing exactly that with our current drones, the only difference being that they're controlled by more traditional input devices. Even if we still needed boots on the ground, it's not like the soldiers on the front

        • No, not really. It just means you have drones that are either useful, but inferior to direct human action or you have a situation where drones are better at one task and actual humans at another task. Of course, I'm pretty sure I saw all this as a kid on USA Up All Night.

        • Training.

          If you've got a wounded veteran too damaged to go into combat, you've wasted the years of training and experience. It'd be cheaper to hook him up and give the quick course in neural interface operation than to train a drone operator from scratch. Besides, if the wounded veteran is going to need an implant to operate his artificial limbs anyway, that's money saved.
    • I'm not worried about the soldiers being "hear". I'm worried about the soldiers being "do". More specifically, about the soldiers being "kill their country's citizens". Or about the soldies being "answer only to the whims of the leader".

      "Hear"? No, the I'm fine with the soldiers being that all they want!

  • The positive thing about this that surpasses the other advancements of this nature is that they are actually performing trials with more than one lucky person. Some day this may actually become feasible treatment. And that, my friends, is what makes science worthwhile.
  • Mindquad
  • The fact that we can pull the data necessary to control the robot arm out of the brain, without unacceptable damage, is pretty damn sci-fi...

    Robot arms, though, outside of niche applications, are actually pretty clunky. I wonder how far we are from being able to feed the control signals back into the muscles and nerves that are present; but not receiving the signals they require?
    • Why just an arm? Why only the physical world? Why not just a basic QWERTY keyboard. Once your brain gets the clue that you're controlling what you see it, and the control surface is fluid enough, it will feel like an extension of your own body. It's called Perceptual adaptation [].
    • We all have some control over our EEG, just not in the same way for all people. Now that EEGs can be made compact, and attached to a portable computer its actually fairly easy to useful stuff with the signals thus detected. I don't think this will be made transparent to the user without years of practice. It won't feel like a normal limb.

    • Robot arm beats no arm, or a natural but nonfunctional arm. I'd settle for keyboard and mouse interface.
  • There's no reason you couldn't transmit data from the human subject to a remote humanoid robot on the battlefield. If this method allowed enough coordination in movement, the robot could easily surpass the ability of a traditional human soldier.

    • by artor3 ( 1344997 )

      That's a pretty enormous "if", especially given that people with use of their limbs could always just operate joysticks, or strap on some motion capture hardware. There's very little advantage in creating a system to covert thoughts to movement when nature already provides us with such an effective means.

      All the same, the military should be interested in this, to give wounded veterans a closer approximation of a normal life following their service.

    • Coordination would be very poor without fast, nonvisual feedback.
    • by kiwix ( 1810960 )

      There's no reason you couldn't transmit data from the human subject to a remote humanoid robot on the battlefield.

      We already have very good ways to transmit data from a human subject to a machine, using all kinds of controllers (the most common is probably a steering wheel). We don't need to do it directly from the brain.

  • Robot control YOUR mind!

  • When I first read this headline I saw, "Robot with mind controls man with quadriplegia". Now that would be real news. Imagine my disappointment. Brains controlling robot arms is OLD. O. L. D.
  • How long will it be until someone hacks into the interface and controls the arm remotely (ending up like Dr. Stangelove's Nazi-Arm).

    Would it be admissible as a defense against a crime? "Your Honor, I didn't do it, my (robotically controlled) arm did!"

  • Ok, I'm obviously missing something but if they have an interface from his (brain) neurons to some electronics why can't they put in an interface from the electronics to his (lower body) neurons!

    Essentially use the electronics to bridge the place where (I assume) the neurons are broken.

    Of course there would need to be protections against hacking or this would bring a whole new set of connotations to the term "Zombies" both in popular culture and as referred to with computers that have been taken over.

  • Quadriplegia was definitely my favorite album by The Who.

  • Larry Niven? Who's with me, here...

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.