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Huge Leap Forward In Robotic Limb Replacement

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the arms-and-the-man dept.

Robotics 153

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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Woo... (5, Funny)

Izabael_DaJinn (1231856) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620439)

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:Woo... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23620475)

Or, if the arm runs Windows, the penis repairment industry.

Re:Woo... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23620761)

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... (3, Funny)

LrdDimwit (1133419) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621411)

Perhaps it's just me, but I am generally using other body parts to pick up the flowers and the wine.

Not a huge leap forward. (2, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621647)

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.

More appropriate headline (4, Funny)

s4m7 (519684) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620561)

Dean Kamen is Finally Back to Inventing Useful Things

Re:More appropriate headline (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23621281)

Yes, but what about the monkeys? Won't someone think of the monkeys?

http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/05/29/1254259 [slashdot.org]

Re:More appropriate headline (5, Interesting)

bfl (619363) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:More appropriate headline (1)

HEbGb (6544) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621975)

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:More appropriate headline (2, Insightful)

Geak (790376) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621837)

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.

:-( Insurance (5, Informative)

lantastik (877247) | more than 6 years ago | (#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 (5, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 6 years ago | (#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 (5, Informative)

s4m7 (519684) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620703)

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 (5, Interesting)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620793)

Hell, my father is just now getting treatment for problems caused by his stint in Vietnam!

'Nam (1)

Dr. Cody (554864) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621753)

Hell, my father is just now getting treatment for problems caused by his stint in Vietnam!
Damn, your dad must be a real trooper to go forty years with the Clap before seeking treatment.

Best of luck.

Re::-( Insurance (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23620857)

Vote Republicans! Remember, the Democrats don't support our troops and are in league with the terrorists!

Re::-( Insurance (1)

HiVizDiver (640486) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621009)

Yeah, you just have to look at the top-notch facilities at Walter Ree... oh, wait...

Re::-( Insurance (2, Informative)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621579)

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 my experience what was best for the patient fell second to the turf war between these groups. Thank goodness my mom was patiently advocating for my dad, figured out the system (while there are people within the system whose job it is to help with this, they are not actually easy to find!), and eventually got him switched to VA care. At that point he was treated pretty well (not meant as an indictment of his individual military care givers; but that system is not particularly well suited to long-term care).

I would think that, as a country, we could provide much better care - and still save some money - by separating out military health care from the military programs, combining it with a revamped VA and making it just one program that serves all branches + veterans/retirees.

Re::-( Insurance (1)

jshackney (99735) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620965)

Are you in the US? If he was in the military, why is he dealing with insurance carriers at all?
Never heard of the VA system, eh?

And are you saying he has triple coverage through three different companies?
And he's probably still not adequately covered. Every time anyone in my family has to spend time in a hospital, I get calls and nasty letters from my insurance company wanting to know if I have another insurance plan. Those dirty, rotten, *&^$#bags!!! I used to work in the insurance industry. It's really just legalized extortion.

Re::-( Insurance (2, Informative)

purpleraison (1042004) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620801)

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 benefits, who work for the V.A. -- so there is no charge for their services, so I suppose the lawyer would be the first person to contact.

Re::-( Insurance (2, Informative)

conlaw (983784) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621243)

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::-( Insurance (1, Offtopic)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620897)

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 have our military brainwashing our soldiers with ideas of fighting for their own freedom, in Iraq. It is just ridiculous.

I sure as hell hope one day, we as humans put the important things above all else, and stop living in this fast food, talking point policitian, 5 second news story world.

Good people are dieing, losing their limbs, being burned, scarred, and having their lives ruined... by our own governments hand, and we dont even have the god damn respect to do whats right. AND WE PUT THEM THERE.

Dont look the other way when you see a wounded soldier.... walk up and thank him or her and say you're sorry. This whole fucking Iraq thing was a convoluted lie.

Anyone remember Afghanistan? Bin Laden?... The real mission?

Where is our President? Where the fuck is that coward George W Bush?!

Re::-( Insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23622231)

Somebody has to say it: You're pretty dumb.

Re::-( Insurance (5, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re::-( Insurance (1)

ystar (898731) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621947)

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.

Re::-( Insurance (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 6 years ago | (#23622249)

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.

"Named after Skywalker, I assume" (5, Informative)

empaler (130732) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620573)

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! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23620747)

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."

Human Rights Management (3, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 6 years ago | (#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?

Re:Human Rights Management (1)

nawcom (941663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620613)

Human Rights Management? Oh, you're talking the Patriot Act?

Re:Human Rights Management (4, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Human Rights Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23621391)

25-75 years off? looks like it works right now to me. This is an awesome piece of tech which is going to make a lot of people's lives better. I applaud DARPA for humanitarian projects like these.

Re:Human Rights Management (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23621989)

As some wise /.'er pointed out a while back, democracy means that 51% of the people get to rape the other 49%.

Democracy is the worst form of government (Winston Churchill & Ben Franklin).

Democracy has never worked, it does not work now and it never will work. The United States of America is supposed to be a constitutional republic, albeit with a democratic election system, not a straight-up democracy.

Learn the difference and learn why democracy sucks, because it's what we see in action in the USA today.

Re:Human Rights Management (4, Informative)

Worthless_Comments (987427) | more than 6 years ago | (#23622287)

Democracy is the worst form of government ... except all the others that have been tried.

It's a lot less misleading when you actually finish the quote.

Why stop at "human like" articulation? (4, Interesting)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (4, Interesting)

s4m7 (519684) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620675)

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?

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620741)

maintenance costs, and problems with magnets/security scanners probably!

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (5, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620835)

If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

(Besides, the technology is just too new.)

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23620863)

Why replace when you can have 3 arms ?

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (2, Insightful)

Hucko (998827) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621251)

You, sir, have it right. Put it on a wireless caterpillar track base, and multiple telescopic arms. There doesn't seem to be too many reasons to attach them to the body.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (2, Interesting)

Rangsk (681047) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621061)

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 human officers required to have their eyes replaced with cybernetic implants?
[Picard considers this, pauses, then looks away from Data]
Lt. Commander Data: I see. It is precisely because I am *not* human.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (2, Funny)

bperkins (12056) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621175)

This issue was very thoughtfully covered in Strong Bad Email 47 [homestarrunner.com] .

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (2, Interesting)

dlevitan (132062) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621641)

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 productive and useful. Maybe there would be a way to augment the body's muscles to make them stronger, for example. However, I doubt this will happen anytime soon.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (2, Informative)

barzok (26681) | more than 6 years ago | (#23622157)

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 and walk with a cane. He has a list of things that he either can't do, or has to be extremely careful while doing (mundane things like bending over to tie his shoes even). His doctors and therapists have done a terrific job - but there's only so much that can be done.

Even if a replacement body part would have "more capabilities" than OEM parts, the problems that go along with the actual replacement may make it more trouble than it's worth.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (2, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620683)

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.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620749)

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:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620865)

You mean that yucky plastic skin that old prothestics are covered with? Hello uncanny valley!

I'd rather have a Terminator looking device as an arm than that crap! It doesn't look bad as it is.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23621159)

SOMEBODY likes tossing around a new phrase they learned.

If someone is curious, they will google it.

As it is, you are posting on Slashdot. I bet you one person in twenty doesn't know what the Uncanny Valley effect is, and that one person in twenty probably doesn't read the comments anyways.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (1)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 6 years ago | (#23622023)

I'm pretty sure if they can spend all those thousands on making an uber robo arm, they can get a decent skin texture on the outside.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (2, Funny)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620799)

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.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (3, Interesting)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620993)

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=

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620687)

Range of motion->complexity->cost->doh!.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23620689)

I could do with a few tentacles to please my Japanese girlfriend.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (1)

Travis Mansbridge (830557) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620769)

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 ;)

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23621033)

I don't think that's necessarily true. I think there is discussion of this when people examine how it is that you and I can drive large cars safely and other people can fly 747s where they land with their eyes 60' above the ground...

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (3, Interesting)

Zarf (5735) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621047)

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"

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23622027)

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.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (1)

Worthless_Comments (987427) | more than 6 years ago | (#23622365)

"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""

I realize I am sorta picking apart the non-important part of your argument(which I don't necessarily disagree with), but I really do feel this a poor example. Of course you wince when you hit something in your car...it usually means you just damaged your car. And people usually say ouch in such a situation either ironically or because, you know, they got jarred/hurt.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (2, Insightful)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620915)

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 it would require many more electrodes to be able to control an entire arm.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23621211)

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.
Sure you could. Each existing muscle is innervated by thousands of unique neurons, and with appropriate feedback, people can be trained to control specific neurons. With good signal processing, it is possible to resolve some of those individual neurons from even one electrode pair. Your brain already does control with finer resolution than "Muscle on" "Muscle off," it's just a matter of resolving the signal and giving the human consistent feedback of that signal.

One of the biggest travesties of upper limb prosthetic development is that, in the past fifty years, no one has tried to use EMG signals as anything more than a binary switch.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23621197)

Why only have an elbow and wrist and five fingers?
Amputees already have people looking at them like they are freaks, unnatural looking cybernetics won't help them any.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (1)

conlaw (983784) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621605)

Amputees already have people looking at them like they are freaks, unnatural looking cybernetics won't help them any.

On the other hand, Shriners' Hospitals for Children do hundreds of prosthetic limbs for kids and allow them to have the choice of how they're covered/colored. I'm sure that lots of ten-year-olds are envious of the kid whose leg is done in day-glo or the colors of the local sports team.

Re:Why stop at "human like" articulation? (1)

gnuman99 (746007) | more than 6 years ago | (#23622111)

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.

Another misleading summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23620649)

While the arm is impressive, many movements are controlled by sensors that may be in the shoes or attached to other muscles. A person cannot simply think about grabbing an object and have the hand respond. It may also require small movements with a foot. Still, the arm is a great invention with the technology that is available today.

Another not-article reading whiner. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23620813)

Umm, wrong. While direct mental control isn't the only system discussed, they clearly did say that they had gotten it controlled directly from the mind. RTFA before whining that the subject is wrong. I hate people that are in such denial about their own ignorance, that they seek out places to try to correct others. No one knows everything, not even you. Accepting that is an early step on the path towards intellectual enlightenment.

Re:Another not-article reading whiner. (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620871)

By mind control yes, but not directly from the mind - it sounded like they said from electrodes in the muscles. Six and half a dozen really, and I'd rather have electrodes in my muscle-stubs than brain surgery anyday!

Re:Another not-article reading whiner. (4, Informative)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620957)

ahemmmm.... muscles ARE controlled by the mind... voluntary and involuntary. The method they used was to 'train' the prosthetic by asking the guy to do something, seeing how the arm responded to his mental commands/instincts/whatever, then re-calibrated the arm to do the action... with a few days of training you could have the arm responding to a large range of voluntary coordinations.

You know what else will be light years ahead? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23620685)

The day we'll be able to coax the body into growing a new limb, or we can grow one in a vat and tack it on, that'll be light years ahead of the clunky electromechanical devices (including this one).

Huge leap forward. (1)

DirtySouthAfrican (984664) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620751)

What a bad pun =]

Control of real limbs? (4, Interesting)

markk (35828) | more than 6 years ago | (#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:Control of real limbs? (1)

BlueshiftVFX (1158033) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620979)

I was wondering about this myself, but I think that the signal needs to be sensed at the skin point somehow near where the appendage opperates, and with a paralyzed person the signal is broken at the spine somewhere. so it would perhaps require a different type of interface.

Re:Control of real limbs? (2, Insightful)

Grym (725290) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621667)

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 be intact and likely over-reactive. So, even if external stimulation were applied to cause appropriate muscular contraction, without the proper modulation and inhibition from the upper motor neurons in the brain, any resulting movement would be very jerky and unreliable. Plus, there's the whole issues of muscular tone and posture which are themselves complex and would need to be addressed before these individuals could actually do anything functional.

But, more importantly, sensation is not a luxury. It is absolutely required for proper movement of our extremities. Without access to touch, pain, or proprioceptive (joint-position/vibration) information, the controlling system would have no idea how to properly modulate its stimulation for even basic tasks. Even more troubling, such a system would very easily lead to broken bones, dislocated joints, and torn muscles and blood vessels without the patient even knowing it. All of these could be life-threatening if not found and treated in time.

I'm going to go out on a limb (no pun intended) and predict that it's unlikely that this technology will ever be applied beyond prosthetics. For quadriplegics and paraplegics, the most promising developments will probably be nerve-regeneration techniques, as this leverages the already exquisite circuitry in our bodies devoted to movement.

-Grym

Distance or time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23620779)

Is the blogger (Dylan Tweney) using the term "lightyears" as a measurement of distance or time? I'm wondering, you know, because of the Star Wars reference, and that whole "less than 12 parsecs" fiasco from back in 1977.

Re:Distance or time? (1)

Bottlemaster (449635) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620985)

Is the blogger (Dylan Tweney) using the term "lightyears" as a measurement of distance or time?
Yes, he's using it as a measurement of distance. It's figurative speech - distance is being used as a metaphor for progress.

luke (3, Funny)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:luke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23622393)

Yes agreed,

what we have here is a failure to communicate.

Old news (1)

Kr4u53 (955252) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620853)

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.

Iron Man? (1)

cyclobotomy (681303) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620881)

Dean Kamen is a real-life Tony Stark

Mecha on the moon (4, Interesting)

Zarf (5735) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620927)

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:Mecha on the moon (2, Informative)

Robert1 (513674) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621077)

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 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.

There's really no barrier to using it for moon robots, although I can't imagine the benefit of directly controlling them. Plus, there's like a 2.5 second lag which would make it a chore to directly control. Basically it would be pretty stupid and worthless to have a direct interface like that. Anyway, all the mars probes and such are essentially the same thing, none of them are really automated and have to have everything done by direct input from NASA. Of course, their input is keyboards and buttons since they have to plot out what the rover/probe will do exactly as physical speed limits stop them from ever controlling something in real time.

To put it more simply, you'll only ever be able to use something like this (direct input) when controlling something on Earth or reasonable close - like something on the ISS.

Re:Mecha on the moon (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621317)

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 la Ghost in the Shell. It could happen someday..if someone can pay for it.

Re:Mecha on the moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23622597)

that's not entirely true. the brain isn't entirely crossed over like that. I have an AVM in my left cerebellum and it affects my left arm.

Re:Mecha on the moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23621571)

Giant robots? Mecha? Doc Oc? Nooooo
I think you're just excited about masturbation with the third arm...

But is it Steampunk? (1)

Corky Devereaux (1299435) | more than 6 years ago | (#23620929)

Disclaimer: Dean Kamen is a personal friend of mine. I'll be cyber-casting [blogspot.com] about this very soon.

Wtf does COA Stand for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23620943)

Brb, Cutting Off Arm.
(FUCK YEAH CYBORGS)

I'm not exactly sane but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23620983)

The second these things reach the sophistication of the human arm, I'm hopping a plane to Tijuana and lopping an arm off.

I desire:
Full mental control system.
Increased reaction/movement speed.
Tactile feedback, pressure, temperature, pleasure/mild pain.
Mounted laser cannon (Optional)

That is all. Nothing much.

Re:I'm not exactly sane but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23622505)

Tactile feedback, pressure, temperature, pleasure/mild pain.
There's an interesting problem. If you had an arm that could be harmlessly smashed to bits and could withstand reasonably high temperatures, where would you set the pain threshold?

Great when can I get my consealed lazer rod? (1)

lindoran (1190189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621015)

All I have to say is 1d6+1 MDC .... Rifts anybody?

Dean Kamen is a genius! (1)

nih (411096) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621039)

mind-controlled prosthetic robot arm he's invented today
1. invent robot arm in one day 2. ??? 3. the world!

Adding silicone skin... (1)

mikael (484) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621067)

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.

Speaking as a luddite... (1)

blue l0g1c (1007517) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621299)

you'd have to twist my arm to get me to use one.

Re:Speaking as a luddite... (2, Interesting)

SlashWombat (1227578) | more than 6 years ago | (#23622195)

Really? Could we experiment on you? Of course, we need to remove both your arms first, and leave you that way for a few years before we even begin to attempt to "train" you to use the replacement. Hope your good at holding your bladder, or your going to wet yourself whilst pleading with someone to unzip you, and provide the aiming ...

Seriously, this thing is amazing. Now all we need is a brain replacement for about 50% of the people who respond with off topic or plainly ridiculous statements in their posts on/to slashdot!

Maybe news for turds is more apt in a fair percentage of cases?!

Re:Speaking as a luddite... (1)

blue l0g1c (1007517) | more than 6 years ago | (#23622255)

A brain replacement? Now who's being ridiculous? Just imagine the guy waking up to his new body. "I was supposed to have a brain replacement, not a full body replacement!"

Re:Speaking as a luddite... (1)

SlashWombat (1227578) | more than 6 years ago | (#23622381)

Am I being ridiculous? Just read some of the statements in this thread.

Iron man / Tony Stark, penis and third arm, etc. Alternatively, comments on the aesthetics of the rubber covering the working parts. Who gives a flying F.., if the prosthetic helps, but offends some of the idiots out there!

People should engage there minds before putting their mouths into gear! (Same holds true for typing.) Or, if someone puts their foot in their mouth, they should be made to bite!

lightyears (1, Funny)

Digitus1337 (671442) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621333)

How many lightyears until we can see these things in stores?

good step in the right direction (3, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#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 (2, Interesting)

pattipace (1300117) | more than 6 years ago | (#23621909)

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 keep on using. Is the natural weight of the limb factored into the design? Thanks!

Re:pattipace7@yahoo.com (3, Informative)

SlashWombat (1227578) | more than 6 years ago | (#23622259)

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 bundle of nerve fibres.) I am surprised something like that wasn't employed (in reverse ... as pick-ups) in at least some of the experiments.
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