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New Bionic Prothesis: Bigger, Faster, Stronger... Plus They've Wired In The Sense Of Touch


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I thought this was very, very cool.  Imagine a robotic prothesis that can tell you by touch if something is sharp, smooth, rough, slick, etc.  We are definitely living in the land of science fiction.


In our daily lives, we take many things for granted. The act of writing with a pen, for instance, requires many steps from know how much pressure to apply to holding the instrument to how to orient it, to how to move it to create the characters we want. All of these steps become automatic, but when training someone to use a robotic or bionic prosthesis many of these functions that seem so ordinary are lost.

"We take all these things for granted," Sliman Bensmaia, a professor with the Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago says, "but without these signals coming from our hand we would constantly have to use vision to do these things instead and that would require so much more concentration that we intact individuals don't have to employ."

However, just being able to grasp or manipulate an object is only one side of the coin. Bensmaia says that touch is an important key in our ability to function... that there's an important interplay between sensation and motor behavior.

"There's a condition where people have intact motor systems... so these are people who can move their arms just like you and me can but they don't have any sensory feedback from them and when you look at them trying to manipulate objects they look like they have very severe motor impairments."

Bensmaia's solution was to create a bionic prosthetic that would be wired directly into a patient’s brain that could deliver not just spatial information, but also textural ones. For this arm, the choice was to have its communication mirror what naturally occurs in the human brain
Read more: http://voiceofrussia.com/us/2013_11_10/New-bionic-arm-bigger-faster-stronger-more-sensitive-8635/

Darn it!  The web bums chose the wrong audio file.  They uploaded the raw interview... still worth listening too, but you get to hear me not being able to say his title.

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I loved that show as a kid and didn't realize at all how cheesy it was.


Still, imagine being able to feel again using just a prosthetic.  Very cool stuff to me.  Wiring the prosthetic directly into the brain and teaching it neural language is fascinating too.



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