FDA approves first mind-controlled robotic arm
As painful as it looked for Luke Skywalker to lose his arm in The Empire Strikes Back, he got a wickedly awesome robotic arm that he controls with his mind. You know what, it actually exists and you can thank the inventor of the Segway for that.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the sale and marketing of the Deka Arm – a prosthetic limb that converts electrical signals from electromyogram (EMG) electrodes connected to a person’s muscles, to form 10 distinct movements (in the mix of all that is a processor in the prosthesis).
If that’s too many science terms in a single sentence for you, it’s basically a bionic member that creates hand actions according to signals from the user’s muscles.
Bionic limbs go mainstream
Also fondly known as the “Luke” arm, obviously in reference to the technology that was pure science fiction a few decades ago, the robotic arm will be progress from a research trial to a complete marketable creation.
“The Deka Arm System may allow some people to perform more complex tasks than they can with current prostheses in a way that more closely resembles the natural motion of the arm," FDA center for devices and radiological health director of the office of device evaluation, Christy Foreman, said.
Foreman also claimed the commercial rollout of the robotic prosthetic will benefit many, especially victims of accidents or even injured military veterans. But the Deka Arm doesn't work for everyone – it's not applicable for people with limb loss at the elbow or wrist joint.
If it’s still too hard to believe, check out the demo video (above) of Fred Downs, one of the recipients of the Deka Arm, using the prosthetic arm to dexterously lift and move eggs from one carton to another.