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13 May 2010

 http://asia.cnet.com/crave/2010/05/13/mind-controlled-bionic-arm-in-field-test/

Mind-controlled bionic arm in field test

Juniper Foo  |  May 13, 2010

(Credit: Otto Bock Healthcare)


If you've watched The Men Who Stare at Goats, you'd know it's all about covert efforts by the military to develop mind control. Well, good luck to them. However, it may be a bit premature to write off mind control as so much paranormal X-File-ish diddle dee doo, considering that Europe-based Otto Bock Healthcare has just done the impossible with a mind-controlled robotic arm.

The limb in question is attached to 21-year-old Christian Kandlbauer, who lost both his arms four years ago after being electrocuted by a whopping 20,000 volts. The prosthetic, which took an equal number of years to develop, works in tandem with transplanted nerves that prompt electrical impulses from the brain to reach the muscles in the chest. This then gets interpreted by a micro-computer into actual movement.

The result is nothing short of amazing since this means prosthetic limbs in future will be able to respond in real time to whatever you're thinking, just like the real deal. As proof of its capabilities, Kandlbauer has been field-testing this by driving around in a car with his mind-controlled left "arm" (his right is fitted with a conventional prosthetic). The feat makes him possibly the world's first person in such a unique situation. The good news is, the technology is more than ready to leave the labs for commercial use. But the bad news is, such a procedure will cost a pretty penny. Then again, what price independence when it's your limb on the line?

BBC News



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