Sunday, October 24, 2010

From the Segway inventor, a new prosthetic: the 'Luke Arm'

From Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, comes a new type of prosthetic. It's called the "Luke Arm."

On his new Planet Green show, "Dean of Invention,"Kamen showed off the "Luke Arm," which is named, quite obviously, after the prosthetic limb that Luke Skywalker received after Darth Vader cut off his real hand with a lightsaber.

Controlled not by thought but by joysticks in their shoes, the "Luke Arm" gives users enough feedback that they can do fine motor acts previously impossible with a prosthetic. They can pick up a single chocolate covered coffee bean, or even peel a banana without squashing it.

Although Kamen said the next advance would be thought control of the "Luke Arm," there are already such thought-controlled prosthetics around. Ironically, in fact doctors announced on Friday the death of the first European patient to be given a thought-controlled bionic prosthetic limb, Christian Kandlbauer.

Of course, that's a totally different limb by a totally different company, Otto Bock Healthcare. What's needed now is for the two groups to talk to each other.

Watch a video on the "Luke Arm."

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