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Canada Medicine Technology

Students Create Thought-Controlled Prosthetic Arm 50

Posted by timothy
from the only-the-good-thoughts-I-hope dept.
Zothecula writes "Two undergraduate students from Toronto's Ryerson University have created a prosthetic arm that is controlled by its wearer's brain signals, and powered by compressed air. Not only is the Artificial Muscle-Operated (AMO) Arm said to offer a greater range of movement than traditional prostheses, but it also doesn't require the amputee to undergo invasive surgery, is easy to learn to use, and it is relatively inexpensive to make."
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Students Create Thought-Controlled Prosthetic Arm

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  • Looks great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Saturday April 02, 2011 @06:12AM (#35692774) Homepage Journal

    The article discusses other projects they are looking at. Artificial lungs and way of bypassing spinal cord injuries. Its the sort of pragmatic engineering we should see more of in medicine. I hope they can deliver.

    • by MoeDumb (1108389)
      Classic out-of-the-box thinking went into this. Hope it goes commercial big time, to the benefit of many.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm a bio-electrical engineer from MIT, and have done a dozen years of work in the field. This is a classic lab demonstration of a concept that fails in practice. I've worked with such sensory-neural prostheses, and it *does not work* for delicate control of anything. You can't reliably measure such signals: you can make gross measurements from skin or subcutaneous electrodes, but it's like trying to steer your car by aiming a firehose at the steereing wheel You can actually manipulate it and turn the car l

  • It can't be too much longer before you can get the cost down to the point high end users can afford it.

    If they can make the learning fast enough and distinguish between different letters then sometime in the next 20 years you will be buying a cap with your tablet or other mobile device.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Shikaku (1129753)

      No "the stranger" jokes yet? I thought someone might do this because of the enabling technology. See this [urbandictionary.com] if you don't know what it is.

      • by nzac (1822298)

        While I see zero feedback as issue for these kinds of devices I don't see the 'the strangers' relevance to IO input.

        My thinking is if you could for the easy case input hex by selectively contacting four fingers of one hand and turn the motor function of the hand of with a switch. You could also expand this to ternary input by using contacting and extending allowing full ASCII.

        I do see a lot of risk to confusing the brain about normal mussel use if not done properly.

        • by andrea.sartori (1603543) on Saturday April 02, 2011 @08:56AM (#35693100) Journal

          I do see a lot of risk to confusing the brain about normal mussel use if not done properly.

          These hate-fueled, misleading claims made by oyster producer shills must be stopped! Mussel is a perfectly healty and safe food!!!1

        • by maugle (1369813)

          My thinking is if you could for the easy case input hex by selectively contacting four fingers of one hand and turn the motor function of the hand of with a switch. You could also expand this to ternary input by using contacting and extending allowing full ASCII.

          I think Google beat you to that idea [google.com]

          • by nzac (1822298)

            I'm sure the idea is not new its more a proof of concept (for me) that it could work.

            You have it wrong, i am saying that it could be possible in the next couple of decades to use a cap to read brain waves not a camera. The camera requires a lot of space. If this was to work you could type full speed (with a lot of practice) on the subway, (hopefully not driving) a car....

      • this scenario is highly possible when two undergraduates build a robotic arm:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-VJLz65QhM [youtube.com]
  • by Tigger's Pet (130655) on Saturday April 02, 2011 @06:28AM (#35692816) Homepage

    I would all depend on what level of the thought process they have it operating. Would the user have to actively think "I'll move it up, down, away, towards etc", in which case it would be less intuitive and easy than the nerve- or muscle-controlled ones. If the arm was set to just work on 'impulse' type thoughts, then how long before peoples arms start grabbing women by the arse just coz the user had a dirty thought - would they be able to be held responsible in law for the action of their arm?
    As for the Canadians doing this, well done. DARPA have been working on this for a long time now;-
    http://www.neurotechreports.com/pages/darpaprosthetics.html [neurotechreports.com]
    http://singularityhub.com/2010/08/03/mind-controlled-artificial-arm-begins-the-first-human-testing/ [singularityhub.com]

    • What they have done is quite different than the DARPA project in that it does not involve surgery. Like older prosthetics, it just slips on over the stump. You wear a head band to control it and yes, you think "up", "down" etc to move it. In the video I saw of it a user got it to operate with very little training.
  • What? (Score:3, Funny)

    by a_hanso (1891616) on Saturday April 02, 2011 @06:46AM (#35692848) Journal

    No "CANADIAN students create thought controlled prosthetic arm"?

    Disclaimer: Big fan of Canada. I'm joking and I'm drunk.

  • Dodgy article (Score:4, Informative)

    by EdZ (755139) on Saturday April 02, 2011 @07:24AM (#35692914)
    Hard to tell whether this is anything new or not when the article makes such glaring errors as:

    While some traditional prosthetic arms move via myoelectric motors and relays

    Myoelectrics involves sensing muscle movements by the electric fields generated, and is nothing to do with a type of electric motor. I doubt if anyone has used a relay in a prosthetic limb for at least a decade.
    If they really just using an EEG headband to control the arm, it's going to have very low controlled dexterity, and extremely slow response.

    • Hard to tell whether this is anything new or not when the article makes such glaring errors as:

      While some traditional prosthetic arms move via myoelectric motors and relays

      Myoelectrics involves sensing muscle movements by the electric fields generated, and is nothing to do with a type of electric motor. I doubt if anyone has used a relay in a prosthetic limb for at least a decade. .

      So it's not a "glaring error" at all - if they were used previously, then likely many of those devices are still in operation, so it's a true statement.

      • by EdZ (755139)
        It's in the same vein as saying "many previous computers worked using DC hard-discs and inter-meshing gears [wikipedia.org]". One is total nonsense, the other is so outdated as to be irrelevant.
    • by jfengel (409917)

      It's the reason I don't mind the April Fools Day jokes. News in the tech industry is actually pretty slow. Minor advances get blown up into big news. It's hard even to tell from this article exactly how much is novel and how much of it is just "Hey, we're students and we put together existing technologies in the hopes that after we graduate we're going to build something genuinely world-changing."

      Of interest to the nerds, I suppose, especially those not actually in the field who are interested in somethi

    • by Dr Caleb (121505)

      Feel free to watch the Global News story on it to answer some of your questions.

      http://www.channels.com/feeds/show/1205/Global-National-Vital-Signs-Video-Podcast [channels.com]

  • This is not serious or credible. Building prosthetic devices is a serious challenge with a lot of ergonomic issues. This project and the reportage like some kids building a lego robot and expecting it to revolutionize the automobile industry. Great, they controlled some simple pneumatic with an alpha wave reader: yawn.

    How about Dean Kamen's TED talk as a reference point for what's really needed and where this game is at: http://www.ted.com/talks/dean_kamen_previews_a_new_prosthetic_arm.html [ted.com]

  • This reminds me of the Inspector Gadget movie, where the prosthetic foot is controlled by the will of the user...

  • My parents created 2 pair of BIOLOGICAL thought controlled arms over 30 years ago!

  • by Woogiemonger (628172) on Saturday April 02, 2011 @10:15AM (#35693318)
    In this TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_root_wolpe_it_s_time_to_question_bio_engineering.html [ted.com] ... the speaker details an experiment where they had a robotic arm respond to the brain signals a monkey has when it moves one of its arms. The monkey realized intuitively how it's controlled and eventually was able to move the arm without moving its real arm, effectively giving the monkey three working arms. Might've been an ape -- I forget.
  • You know it's the only way this cheesy sf-horror premise gets any good.

  • Could it be used to control this? http://gmail.com/motion [gmail.com]

  • Like "raise my left arm" or "throw the harpoon"? People are going to come from all over... this boy's an Eskimo!

  • Didn't even RTFS. Just the subject had me rolling, remembering the tale of a VOICE controlled prosthetic arm. It's #392, in case you haven't hear it.

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