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Man Controls Cybernetic Hand With Thoughts

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the i-thought-john-connor-destroyed-that-thing dept.

Biotech 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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woohoo (1)

GarretSidzaka (1417217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333256)

bring on the cyborgs!!!!

I just want Slashdot to know (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30333470)

I have a really, really, REALLY big cock.

Re:I just want Slashdot to know (1)

VanGarrett (1269030) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333554)

Ah, but is it a break-through in the field of prosthetics?

Re:I just want Slashdot to know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334608)

pic or it didnt happen

Thank goodness (3, Funny)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333258)

At least we now know the identity of Dr. Claw [wikipedia.org] and why he was able to leave his arm with a bomb in an armchair like in the intro. But will Gadget ever figure it out? Probably not.

Re:Thank goodness (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335386)

But will Gadget ever figure it out? Probably not.

I doubt he will, because Dr. Claw will get him next time. Next time.

That second link (5, Funny)

Vyse of Arcadia (1220278) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333270)

"Scientists go out on limb and declare robot hand a success"

C'mon, that's terrible even by my standards!

Re:That second link (5, Funny)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333300)

You have to hand it to them though, I think they really pulled it off!

Re:That second link (1)

jegerjensen (1273616) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334628)

No, you misunderstand. They ATTACHED it!

Re:That second link (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338286)

Despite your intended humor, the video makes it look like they have not actually attached it. Which does not seem like that big a surprises to me, since this limb would be so much heaver than a real hand that they would need to equip what remains of his arm with a bio-assist sleeve to allow him to use it in a way that resembles normal. Plus in order to be able to use this new arm for any signficiant portion of time, he would need to carry around an ungodly amount of additional weight in batteries.

I mean think about how much we complain about battery life in laptops which are mostly solid state. Now image how quickly laptop sized batteries would run out if powering an arm. Imagine just how many batteries you would need to get reasonable battery life in a robotic arm.

Re:That second link (1)

jegerjensen (1273616) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338598)

Good point about the batteries. If I was in charge of this research project, we would develop a fuel cell to generate electricity directly from ATP. Just route some blood through it. Now THAT would be awesome.

Re:That second link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30333316)

Oh give 'em a hand, I applaud their efforts - and now, so can he.

What happens when the patient thinks "wank?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334482)

N/T

Yes, yes, yes! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30333280)

YES. EXCEPT THAT IS NOT THE HAND SKYWALKER LOST. EITHER OF THEM.

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?

Re:Yes, yes, yes! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30333314)

Ppl smrt nuff 2 hk up rbt arm 2 prsn, and prsn can grip bottle wif robot fingers, r smrt nuff 2 kno dat.

Re:Yes, yes, yes! (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334162)

Anyone smart enough to decipher that post would not only know that, but also the answer to life, the universe and everything.

Re:Yes, yes, yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334216)

I can decipher it! And the answer is 42. I thought Slashdotters were... actually, I'm not going to finish that sentence.

Translation to english for non stupid speakers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30336242)

People smart enough to hook up a robotic arm to a person, and the person can grip a bottle with robotic fingers, are smart enough to know that.

Re:Yes, yes, yes! (2, Interesting)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333468)

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:Yes, yes, yes! (1)

denmarkw00t (892627) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333558)

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?

Why yes, as you stated (and as I believe because a) I'm lazy and b) I couldn't imagine the nervous system using any sort of "high" voltage signal)))/*Close those parens!*/ I would think that a feedback system wouldn't be hard to develop, at least on the hardware side. Making something that can be affected by resistance - say, a hand touching the fake arm - shouldn't be difficult at all. While not entirely familiar with the technologies, something akin to touchscreen tech, the holographic stickers on old old old school Transformers toys, etc should be easily measurable.

The real problem, imho aianadosoee (and I am not a doctor or scientist or electrical engineer, of course), would be software. Err wetware. Err brainware. Whathaveyou, the point I'm trying to make is that measuring "touch" or sensations on an artificial limb is likely the easy part, the hard part is figuring out where to send the signal. As much as we know about the brain and the nervous system, we really don't seem to know much, but even so I don't see why the wiring couldn't be connected to the nearest nerve endings, perhaps through some sort of dongle? Sure, position tracking and sensitivity would be issues, but nothing some testing couldn't fix.

Re:Yes, yes, yes! (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335024)

"the hard part is figuring out where to send the signal"

Send them pretty much anywhere. The brain is very adaptive. Given a few months of use the guy will learn what the different feeelings correspond to. From their his brain will automatically map said feelings. It will quickly become unnoticable. Perhaps slightly different but for the individual they would not care.

I'm basing this off of many experiments, for example people being given vision through sensations in their tongue... The brain figures out what to do with the raw data quick enough.

Re:Yes, yes, yes! (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334518)

I think the standard way for evaluating the feedback is the "are you touching yourself" test.

http://www.trollaxor.com/2009/11/linux-2012-real-d (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30333282)

Re:http://www.trollaxor.com/2009/11/linux-2012-rea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30333892)

LOL

Finally (1)

rmushkatblat (1690080) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333288)

Now I can shed this nasty, degrading shell.

Re:Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30333304)

I wish to purchase your shell, meatbag.

Re:Finally (2, Insightful)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334536)

There is no replacement for brain yet, so your eternal mechanical life will eventually turn into an eternal Alzheimer's.

Re:Finally (1)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334886)

That, and replacing a hand is one thing - replacing your entire body sans brain is another.

Re:Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30335716)

Oh I'm sure it'll be fine. If Alzheimer's patients are good for anything it's for collecting old age pension so they can keep buying stuff (even if it's the same stuff over and over) and thus paying taxes. Think of the economy man!!!

OOOO IT LIVES IT LIVES (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30333334)

I can't hold it, I can't hold it

It's breaking up, it's breaking up

We can rebuild him

Why yes, I am happy to see you and no, that's not a banana in my pocket

Not there yet (4, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333368)

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.

Re:Not there yet (1)

CookedGryphon (1096241) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333882)

Or maybe they're keeping it at a distance and hoping nobody notices that they made him another right hand by accident.

Re:Not there yet (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333946)

I think the hand came before the patient.

Re:Not there yet (1)

CookedGryphon (1096241) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333964)

Damn, a reasonable explanation. That's not nearly so amusing.

Re:Not there yet (1)

Paua Fritter (448250) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334452)

OT but re your sig which asks why linux.conf.au is actually in nz? Well, according to the website:

Wellington will charm you the moment you set eyes on it. A large part of the city's appeal stems from its natural setting: rugged hills rise above a busy harbour, buildings perch on hillsides, streets wind their way around the coast and into hidden valleys.

It's a compact city - the concentrated mix of business, the arts, sports, entertainment and café society add to Wellington's vibrancy and appeal.

What better environment in which to hold Linux.conf.au?

So I hope that's cleared it up for you: in short, it's because they have good coffee in Wellington.
Are you going? Don't miss the little blue penguins, if you do.

Re:Not there yet (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338206)

I doubt it. I live in Melbourne. I was actually in Hobart at the same time as the last one. There were lots of Linux people on the ferry going over. I didn't attend because I was on holiday with my son. I will wait for it to come back to Melbourne and try to con my employer into sending me.

I am sure Wellington is a nice place for a conference but it should be called linux.conf.nz.

Re:Not there yet (1)

Paua Fritter (448250) | more than 4 years ago | (#30362162)

I live in Melbourne too! I don't see why an Aussie conference can't be held in Aotearoa though? It's not like it's a long way ... closer than Perth I think. What confused me was the name of the conference: I first thought it was a domain name, but of course it's not. :-)

Re:Not there yet (3, Interesting)

Jartan (219704) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Not there yet (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338176)

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.

Makes me wonder if you could build an implanted sensor more like a cochlear implant. No direct electrical connection with the outside. Data and power are transferred both ways by induction.

Re:Not there yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30335402)

Perhaps the unit is too heavy at the moment.

The arm in the picture is 2 Kg... A much lighter one is being developed (and it's in an advanced stage of development)

This raises important questions... (4, Funny)

monkeySauce (562927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333376)

Like, will it still count as masturbation if he uses the cybernetic hand?

And, can they give you control without feeling sensation? Because that would totally feel like somebody else's hand...

Re:This raises important questions... (3, Informative)

VanGarrett (1269030) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333590)

No, he still gets sensation. That's actually a technology that's been around for a couple of years, now. The nerves that used to go to the tips of the fingers are surgically relocated to convenient locations where the prosthetic will be mounted, and appropriate sensory devices are built into the fingers, which in turn, relay that sensory data back to the appropriate nerve endings. The net result is that the person wearing the arm gets the distinct tactile sensations from his missing limb, via the artificial limb.

One of the things I find interesting about modern prosthetic limbs, is that the advanced models can actually have the ability to react to nerve impulses faster than the user's real muscles.

it doesn't count as masturbation BUT (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333694)

scientists have found that the palms get hairy after you do it a while.

Re:This raises important questions... (1)

ihatewinXP (638000) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333950)

Im still waiting for the scientific community weigh in on whether bonking your own clone is considered as such as well.

Ahh what an age of wizardry we live in!

Re:This raises important questions... (2, Funny)

Solandri (704621) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333996)

And, can they give you control without feeling sensation? Because that would totally feel like somebody else's hand...

Heck, go whole hog. Have two amputees chatting with each other via webcams connect to each other's artificial arm over the Internet. Cybersex will never be the same.

Re:This raises important questions... (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334386)

Two or more amputees in an online masturbation ring?

I've just had a really neat idea for a porno site!

Re:This raises important questions... (3, Insightful)

srothroc (733160) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334238)

Without sensation? Seems dangerous. What if you squeeze too hard? Pull too hard?

Re:This raises important questions... (3, Funny)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335014)

ah, they can rebuild it. they have the technology! in other news: OUCH!

Re:This raises important questions... (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 4 years ago | (#30336736)

Without sensation? Seems dangerous. What if you squeeze too hard? Pull too hard?

Unless he also has a cybernetic wang, there would still be sensation where it counts.

- RG>

Re:This raises important questions... (2, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30336974)

If there is a voice-controlled version, under no circumstances say "Jerk it off!".

Re:This raises important questions... (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335438)

Like, will it still count as masturbation if he uses the cybernetic hand?

Yes, but he will have the option of also calling it "cybersex".

The better for obscene gesturing? (1)

NAR8789 (894504) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333378)

Not to diminish the achievement, but haven't they built him a redundant right hand?

A Start (1)

BrightSpark (1578977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333388)

I know the rest of you will post the childish big put downs, like the fact you have to carry a laboratory everywhere with you, or wait for the first legal case over accidental removal of testes at the toilet or the wife jokes of "at last he can help with the washing up" so I will post the sobering comments that we all have to start somewhere .. and get 3 good punches in at the same time :-)

Optional extras (5, Interesting)

Geminii (954348) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Optional extras (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30333766)

Someone chop my arm off. I've got to have one of these things!

Re:Optional extras (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334548)

you mean http://xkcd.com/644/ [xkcd.com] ?

Re:Optional extras (2, Insightful)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335044)

well, a simple compass would be easy: you just wire the feedback to the nerve to how close you point your arm to the north. eventually, you'll be able to feel the other directions simply by familiarity with those specific amounts of feeling.

Re:Optional extras (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30341962)

well, a simple compass would be easy: you just wire the feedback to the nerve to how close you point your arm to the north.

[SIGH] A compass points to the local magnetic north (or south), not to "north" in any other sense.
OK, it may seem trivial to some people, but there's about 5 degrees difference here, and 7 degrees of difference at my last work site. And that site, the magnetic variation changed by nearly 3 degrees across the site, due to the presence of magnetic rock intrusions nearby which hardened under a different magnetic field orientation and remember that orientation.
"Simply" and "magnetic compass" do not go together except for the crudest of applications. A 7 degree steering error from the summit of Ben Nevis, for example, would put you either freefalling down Tower Gully or avalanching down Five-Finger Gully, depending on which way you made the error.

Re:Optional extras (1)

Dekker3D (989692) | more than 4 years ago | (#30366918)

i wasn't about the compass being simple, but the implementation. the compass could be gps-driven for all i care. besides, you don't want to rely on something like this for precision jobs unless you can somehow get the data digitally instead of the analogue way i described.

Re:Optional extras (2, Interesting)

unus.sapiens (971836) | more than 4 years ago | (#30341716)

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.

As opposed to.. (1)

billsayswow (1681722) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333446)

As opposed to just using a computer: Man Controls Cybernetic 'Thoughts' With Hand.

God moved the hand (2, Funny)

Admiral Ag (829695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333452)

More proof that God synchronizes mental and physical events. Substance dualists rejoice! ;)

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

Re:God moved the hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30334242)

drunken fencers?

Why start there? (1)

Rollgunner (630808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333462)

What's to say that you need to lose a hand in order to have this system implanted?

Imagine the remote control possibilities: Tele-Surgery and both Macro and Micro Waldoes in general (ever wondered what that water molecule "feels" like ?).

Re:Why start there? (1)

chadenright (1344231) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333798)

Mandatory XKCD: http://xkcd.com/644/ [xkcd.com]

Fear leads to anger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30333464)

So how long before he turns evil starts listening to a crazy old man and kills Natalie Portman?

cnet is the worst journal we can get (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30333610)

During the LifeHand trial, which lasted a month, Petruzziello, 26, was able to experience sensations when grasping, making a fist, and apparently flipping the bird. No really. (There's nothing science can't do.)

WTF?

I for one.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30333642)

.. no, I am not going to make that joke :)

Finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30333870)

I remember when I as kid watched Star wars and was amazed how luke could move his cyber hand after operation. It felt so unrealistic and incredible. This has now happend totally weird when I think back.

Two right hands? (1)

Cinnamon Whirl (979637) | more than 4 years ago | (#30333900)

From the BBC video, it looks like he is controlling a right hand, but it appears that his left arm is the one he lost.
I wonder if this makes it harder to control (like his hand is back to front), and whether he will have trouble adjusting to a prosthetic left arm later on.

Re:Two right hands? (1)

jegerjensen (1273616) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334704)

It appears that he controls it without watching... So my guess is that he is in fact imagining left hand movements. After all that is what his neural system is trained to do. In order to get it right later they just need to wire him up correctly.

Now, the ultimate test! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30333958)

Interesting (1)

jerven (541762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334122)

When they do this with feets, they have come fare

so is it his hand now? (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334144)

I mean... if someone were to destroy this hand for some reason, would they be sued for damaging his personal property, or for bodily harm?
Seriously.
And what then of the destruction of a "personal" computer, cell phone and/or other gadget (which some can argue are more useful than 1 hand or 1 foot)?

Scary headlines... (2, Funny)

Genda (560240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30334208)

I'm still waiting for the newspaper headlines reporting a nose-picking fatality caused by a short in the sensing circuits!!!

Re:Scary headlines... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#30335098)

That or something like the tragic death of Captain Hook.

Ah, Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30337322)

Where the Italian guy is found speaking Portuguese in a British channel.

Re:Ah, Europe (1)

keeboo (724305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30339062)

Where the Italian guy is found speaking Portuguese in a British channel.

Native-like Brazilian Portuguese, to be more precise.

From this article (in portuguese language) [geek.com.br] it seems that he was born in Brazil (he has dual italian-brazilian citizenship) and his family strongly kept their italian identity. Also, he is a public servant in Curitiba [wikipedia.org] .

Performance enhancement? (1)

dzr0001 (1053034) | more than 4 years ago | (#30338280)

Should the governing bodies of modern sports begin regulating performance enhancing prosthetics? Imagine what this guy could do in a robot dance-off.
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