Reality, increasingly, is looking more like sci-fi, with creative designers and inventors making what had once been a staple of genre film and TV a part of our everyday lives. From the news that an affordable scanner that can provide all sorts of information about everyday food and objects (see here), it’s little surprise that the robot arm is becoming more and more reflective of films like Star Wars.
Unlike previous attempts at robot prosthetics, the Deka Arm (nicknamed the ‘Luke Arm’ after Luke Skywalker’s bionic arm in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) is highly dextrous, able to pick up delicate objects, zip up clothing and unlock doors. It could potentially provide people with a fluidity previously lacking in their interaction with the world around them. What sets the arm apart from alternatives is the sheer innovation and the vast range of movements. Many existing devices are based on outdated designs, some of which are over 100 years old.
The Deka Arm was tested by US Army veterans who helped refine the prosthetic, which has been made to resemble a real hand and arm as closely as possible. The arm works by using electrodes which pick up tiny muscle twitches from the user. It’s been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (BBC News, 12th May 2014)
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