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Medicine Robotics

Robotic Prostheses For Human Faces 111

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the make-them-wireless-for-fun-and-amusement dept.
holy_calamity writes "New Scientist reports on a patent application that suggests implanting polymer muscles beneath the skin of people suffering paralysis of the face to give them control of their features. The technique has already been used successfully to reanimate the eyelids of human cadavers. Movement could be returned to other facial features and even paralyzed limbs in the same way, the surgeons at University of California Davis say. The full patent application is also available on the WIPO site."
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Robotic Prostheses For Human Faces

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  • Way cool (Score:5, Funny)

    by flaming error (1041742) on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:38PM (#26878579) Journal

    > The technique has already been used successfully to reanimate the eyelids of human cadavers.

    That'll make such a great party trick.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by mc1138 (718275)
      Not as cool as my zombie finger in a box!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by shawnap (959909)

      That'll make such a great party trick.

      The real trick will be getting the host to let you into the party with a corpse slung over your shoulder.

    • Such a long time to wait...
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Bozzio (183974)

      That'll make such a great party trick.

      I was thinking more along the lines of it being the greatest coroner/mortician prank EVER!

      • More like med student prank. Holy crap. Wire up a set of bellows to inflate and deflate the lungs, and you've got a guaranteed lifetime of therapy for the victim.
    • Re:Way cool (Score:5, Funny)

      by flyingsquid (813711) on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:55PM (#26878861)
      So you can even give a dead person facial expressions? This technology seems to have no limits in it applications. I mean, I'll bet you could even get Keanu Reeves to display emotions.

      OK, let me correct that statement: this technology seems to have almost no limits in its applications.

      • So you can even give a dead person facial expressions? This technology seems to have no limits in it applications. I mean, I'll bet you could even get Keanu Reeves to display emotions.

        (Un)fortunately, he has to be converted into a cadever before it'll work.

        • by PachmanP (881352)

          "So you can even give a dead person facial expressions? This technology seems to have no limits in it applications. I mean, I'll bet you could even get Keanu Reeves to display emotions."

          (Un)fortunately, he has to be converted into a cadever before it'll work.

          Whoa!

    • by risk one (1013529)

      That'll make such a great party trick.

      Forget party tricks, how about funeral tricks.

      • This is what i want, at my funeral, during the viewing , I'm setting this thing up to a timer so when people walk by i blink!
    • by vlad30 (44644)

      > The technique has already been used successfully to reanimate the eyelids of human cadavers.

      That'll make such a great party trick.

      I just know somewhere, someone in the military is saying now do the rest of the body

    • by Tablizer (95088)

      Damn, now we'll NEVER get rid of Dick Cheney

      -1 troll

       

    • by danlock4 (1026420)
      Excitement at funeral viewings, at least.
    • Yeah... I don't think 'reanimate' was the word they were looking for.
  • HOLY BLINKING DEADMAN!!!

    I for one welcome our blinking undead overlords.
    • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:52PM (#26878823) Homepage Journal
      Partial facial paralysis hasn't done anything to Harm Sylvester Stallone's career.

      Or the rest of Hollywood, for that matter. Cosmetic paralytics like botox give the appearence of fewer wrinkles and stop microexpressions from giving away lies or other unpleasant emotions [boingboing.net], which is funny because they often cause a zombie-like facial expression. See: FoxNews.

      Humans are striving to give facial movement to corpses while they give away their own facial expressions to look like corpses.
  • Cadaver control? (Score:3, Informative)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:41PM (#26878623)

    The technique has already been used successfully to reanimate the eyelids of human cadavers.

    Hmmm. I had no idea that cadavers had the capacity to control robotic eyelids :)

    From the abstract:

    Metbods: With use of four cadaver heads, an extended upper and lower blepharoplasty incision was used to secure an upper and lower expanded polytetrafluoroethylene implant in the medial orbital wall and tarsal plates. The slings were passed through a hole drilled in the lateral orbital wall or around a titanium screw. Lateral pull on the sling created eyelid closure, and the necessary distance of pull was measured. Results: The eyelid sling mechanism functioned to achieve complete eyelid closure. Less tension was required for eyelid closure when the sling was placed in both eyelids (3 mm of pull instead of 6 mm). Conclusions: The application of artificial muscle to a range of problems that affect both patient morbidity and quality of life is promising. Eyelid closure was created in a cadaver model using a novel sling, but future studies will need to address the feasibility of a prototype artificial muscle eyelid device in humans.

  • by Roblimo (357) on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:44PM (#26878665) Homepage Journal

    This is the advance *I'm* waiting for...

    • Sad thing is that's exactly what I read when I glanced at the front page.
    • by Kokuyo (549451)

      For some people, the difference is marginal ;)

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Only when they are shit-faced.
    • What is wrong with my eyes today. First it was the Pornographic Association for the RIAA ad and now I read the headline the same way you did.

    • We've got just the experimental prosthetic products for you!

      • (butt) FauxButt 3000
      • (liver) Bumbleweeny M-Class Artificial Liver
      • (stomach) BileTastic Stom-Mech9000 (factory model)
      • (guts) Frinkle and Osterman's Artificial Guts

      Remember, they're still experimental!

    • That sounds like a Red Meat [redmeat.com] slug line.
  • by Trillan (597339) on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:45PM (#26878673) Homepage Journal

    Before you know it, being dead won't be nearly the handicap it is now.

    What's that? I missed the point?

  • I can't say with 100% certainty how I would feel if I were unfortunate enough to live under circumstances such as these, but I can say that quality of life is an important issue for me as it would be for so many others. People frequently submit DNR orders for just this reason. If for some reason, I cannot move my face muscles and do not somehow acquire better poker playing skills as a result, then I'd say either clone me a new body or let me go. With "W" gone, the way is a little more clear to research w

    • ... So forget all of this mechanized stuff and let's get into regenerating the body.

      Hmmph. You'll be demanding dimensionally transcendent time travel capsules next :p

      • by erroneus (253617)

        I already have a time travel device!

        It involves a form of suspended animation. I lay on the device, relax and eventually I wake up somewhere between 6 and 10 hours into the future. I haven't figured out how to travel in the other direction yet but I'm working on it.

    • There are several complaints in this story about posts marked unfairly as "Troll". Yours is one such unfortunate victim.

      When's the meta-moderation feature coming back?

  • by kwabbles (259554) on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:46PM (#26878695)

    If I were a carpenter I'd
    Hammer on my piglet, I'd
    Collect the seven dollars and I'd
    Buy a big prosthetic forehead
    And wear it on my real head

    Everybody wants prosthetic
    Foreheads on their real heads
    Everybody wants prosthetic
    Foreheads on their real heads

    • I suppose you mean "Cue," but...

      how this hell is parent modded offtopic? Did you read the lyrics, or just the subject...? Sheesh.

  • You can imagine my relief (pun intended) when I realized the title did not read:
    Robotic Prostheses For Human Feces

  • this will be great for people who have suffered horrific burns on their face.
  • This is no surprise. After all, everybody wants prosthetic foreheads on their real heads [metrolyrics.com].
    • I call shenanigans. While this is redundant - someone beat you to the reference two posts ago - it's not really offtopic. Someone's modding down based on anti-TMBG bias.

      offtopic != unfunny. Mod points are supposed to be based loosely on content (yes, i hear you all laughing), not your opinion of the post. Sigh.

  • Great (Score:3, Interesting)

    by writerjosh (862522) * on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:49PM (#26878741) Homepage

    BORG or Skynet? Which is coming first?

  • by zooblethorpe (686757) on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:51PM (#26878793)

    Since when are surgical procedures patentable? And what are the ethics of patenting this anyway, and likely thereby preventing some people from receiving such treatment, even if it is somehow legal to do so?

    Or is the patent specific to the artificial muscles?

    • What would we do if god had patented the whole human system? The second coming of Jesus would take place in a court room where he'd be suing our asses off for infringing on his old man's patents.
      • Actually, since patents last for only 20 years, likely all that stuff would be in the public domain by now. And we'd have an exact description of how to do it ourselves too, instead of still having to guess at it. As it is, the old fart is keeping it all a trade secret, which is just what patents were supposed to prevent.

        On the other hand, I guess 7 of his days in Genesis seem to have been almost 2 billion years each (counting "let there be light" as coinciding with the big bang.) So 20 of his years for the

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blueg3 (192743)

      Note that it's a patent application. I haven't looked to see if it's patentable, but you can file applications for things that aren't patentable.

      The concern about ethics really depends on what control is exerted with the patent. It'd all be speculation, since this isn't even a procedure ready to be used. (For drugs, for example, intellectual property controls back the majority of the drug cost -- so there are reasonable ethical questions. Even with a zero cost due to IP, neither robotic prosthesis nor the s

    • RTFA. The surgical process isn't claimed; the polymer muscle and its actuation system are. Just like there are patents on surgical tools and prosthetics, there's a patent for the EAP system.

      The only people who would be prevented from receiving such a treatment are people who will have nothing to do with patents at all, in which case they'd never even be in the hospital in the first place.

      • Yet the patent brief itself seems to lay claim to the process as well:

        This invention provides methods and devices for reconstructing muscular responses in patients with paralysis.

        Or am I reading too much into this use of the word "methods"? I rather hope I am.

        Cheers,

    • Sorry to reply to myself, but here is the patent abstract, from the WIPO site linked in the posting:

      This invention provides methods and devices for reconstructing muscular responses in patients with paralysis. Electroactive polymer (EAP) actuators power implants attached to tissues in the patients. When the actuators are energized, the implants move the tissues appropriately to provide improved body functions to patients experiencing a paralysis or paresis.

      So it sure sounds like they're patenting the *proce

      • It's more like "License my patent, or get sued after the operation and end up paying me somewhat more money than you would have if you'd bought a license."

  • Limited scope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by El_Smack (267329) on Monday February 16, 2009 @05:58PM (#26878901)
    Unless science can find another part of the human anatomy that is problematic when limp, this probably won't get off the ground.
    • Now we have the technology to re-create the Baywatch "Running down the beach in slow motion" scenes in real time! I just can't wait until breast augmentation candidates can opt for active control of their fun bags instead of the passive systems we now have... "Look at me! I can make them dance!"
  • And fixing a deformity isn't worth having to eat baby food for life.
  • Uncanny Valley (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lobiusmoop (305328) on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:08PM (#26879033) Homepage

    Feels like there's a great danger here of falling deep into the uncanny valley [wikipedia.org], especially with facial prosthetics.

  • Now they'll have to come out with another sequel to Weekend at Bernie's [imdb.com]
  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday February 16, 2009 @06:12PM (#26879091)
    This is going to make my open-casket funeral so much more interesting!
    • by Tablizer (95088)

      This is going to make my open-casket funeral so much more interesting!

      "Telegram!"
           

  • So now famous actors can botox and still do their job... oh wait
    • by peater (1422239)
      A little botox in my buttocks
      A little botox in my face
      Add some robotics to them both
      And in the Oscars I'd have a place
  • ...I'll show up to a meeting, switch to Facial Auto-Pilot mode, fall asleep, and my face will appear to be raising eyebrows in interest when my voice analyzer detects the end of a sentence, smiling when it hears others lauging...

    Heck, you could even hook your eyes up to this, automatic blinking, eyes looking around. I will just have to perfect the *wake up* sensor so I know when I can leave the meeting...
  • That'd be helping a husband keep a straight face when his wife asks "Does this make me look fat?"
  • by Anonymous Coward

    cuz I'm at work and can't create a profile

    years ago my mother suffered from Bells Palsy. In most of the cases of bells palsy the patient will regain full return of facial nerve control, however for my mother full control of her right eyelid and lip will never happen.

    I think that there will be some great uses for this and certainly not trying to bring anyone down, but it'd be nice to see my mom smile or wink again...now back to the robotic feces and flirty cadavers

  • and I have the Karma to spare, so...

      I welcome our new robot zombie overlords!

  • I thought it read "Robotic Prostitutes for Human Feces." Stop thinking, brain of mine...

    • by danlock4 (1026420)
      That was exactly my initial thought, and when I told myself, "START thinking, brain of mine..."
  • So, you get botox and freeze your face. ... then you fix it with this?
  • I hope they come out with the one that 7 of 9 on voyager wears,
    cant wait to get one of those for my girlfriend, and also the body suit, that was hot!

  • Robotic Prostheses for Human Feces...

    yuk

  • I'm not going to have a wake when I die, but if I did, I would certainly leave instructions to have these implanted to scare the crap out of the people that came.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake

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