Feeds

Segway inventor builds shoe-controlled bionic arm

Kamen's vibro-limb tried out by US veterans

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Famous inventor Dean Kamen has developed a revolutionary new bionic arm for use by US troops injured in combat. The arm, now in beta testing, is manipulated from a foot-operated control panel inside one of the user's shoes and employs a vibrating feedback mechanism.

The DEKA prosthetic arm being trialled by the VA's Frederick Downs. Credit: DEKA

More useful than a Segway?

The new cyberlimb is built by DEKA, the tech R&D firm run by Dean Kamen of Segway and man-hurling cannon fame. It's being developed by Kamen for the US Veterans Administration (VA). The American Forces Press Service reports:

A unique feature of the advanced arm is its control system, which works almost like a foot-operated joystick. An array of sensors embedded in a shoe allows users to maneuver the arm by putting pressure on different parts of the foot. The current version uses wires to relay the signals to the arm, but future versions will be wireless. The arm also can be adapted to work with other control systems, including myoelectric switches, which are wired to residual nerves and muscles in the upper body and respond to movement impulses from the brain, shoulder joysticks or other conventional inputs.

The arm can apparently be fitted to a user with an arm missing "up to the shoulder" and is capable of reaching above the head, which the VA says is "a previously impossible maneuver for people with a prosthetic arm".

Another nifty feature is the arm's grip-strength feedback, provided using vibration. The wearer knows how forceful a grip the robotic hand is exerting by the strength of the arm's vibro signal felt in the stump.

The new cyber tech is now being tried out by suitably disabled US veterans. It's received glowing reviews already from Frederick Downs, chief of the VA’s Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service, who lost an arm fighting in Vietnam. He says he was "brought to tears" by the experience of being able to smoothly lift and drink from a bottle using his new foot-operated arm.

“Learning to use the controls is not difficult,” according to Downs. The VA says that the arm lets users "pick up a key or hold a pencil". ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rockin' boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.