May 04, 2017 09:31 AM EDT
Pretty much the same as the robotic arm of famous "Star Wars" character, Luke Skywalker, the Newcastle University builds the new generation of artificial limbs. Electrodes wrap around the nerve endings in the arm, making it the first time for the brain to directly communicate with a prosthetic.
Biomedical engineers at Newcastle University tested the new generation of prosthetics that allows users to reach for objects automatically. Simply put, it functions like a real hand. Experts from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council led the study. Apparently, the artificial limb also features an artificial eye that takes pictures of the object in front of it.
Through the installed camera, the robotic arm can assess the shape and size of its target. Recent statistics show that roughly 600 new upper-limb amputees are reported each year in the UK. Fifty percent of these cases are aged 15 to 54. On the other hand, the US accounts for about 500,000 upper-limb amputees annually.
According to Science Daily, the bioengineers programmed the hand to perform four different types of grasps. The first two were the palm wrist neutral and the palm wrist pronated grabs. The former is used when picking a cup while the other happens whenever people hold things like a TV remote control. Meanwhile, the other two grasps were the tripod (use of the thumb and two fingers) and the pinch (use of the thumb and first finger).
Now, through the 99p camera, the hand "sees" the object and freely decides what type of grab is appropriate for it. Interestingly, the work is just part of a larger project that aims to develop a prosthetic limb that can sense pressure and temperature. The Newcastle University has worked with the University of Leeds, University of Essex, Keele University, University of Southampton, and the Imperial College London.
Per BBC, Dr. Kianoush Nazarpour said that prosthetic limbs have changed very little in the past century. Additionally, one of the most significant downsides of artificial arms is responsiveness. Now, however, that problem might have been solved. Below is the official video of the project from Newcastle University:
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