Editor in Chief
- Dec 30, 2010
- Reaction score
- Austin, TX
The idea of having cybernetic limbs sounds exciting when you watch TV shows like the Bionic Man or play video games like Deus Ex, but the reality is that there are thousands of people in the real world who have lost their limbs and struggle with some of the basic life functions that we take for granted. The real promise of mind-controlled artificial limbs is the ability of technology to offer people in this situation improved lives.
Our newest off topic news story for today reveals just how far along we have come with this technology. the above video is the "first bilateral shoulder-level amputee" to wear two MPLs at the same time. MPL stands for Modular Prosthetic Limbs, and what distinguishes this from other situations is that these MPLs are only controlled by his mind using wireless technology.
The man in the video with the cyber-limbs is Les Baugh, who lost his arms over 40 years ago. His technology was different than previous attempts. Instead of using implants, Baugh underwent a a procedure called targeted muscle reinnervation. This procedure reassigned the nerves that once controlled his arms and hands. The next step was that the researchers recorded the patterns his brain makes for each muscle movement. They were actually able to help him adapt and test these movements with virtual limbs on a nearby computer. This helped him "train" for the real thing once they fitted the physical limbs.
One of the researchers had this to say,
We expected him to exceed performance compared to what he might achieve with conventional systems, but the speed with which he learned motions and the number of motions he was able to control in such a short period of time was far beyond expectation. What really was amazing, and was another major milestone with MPL control, was his ability to control a combination of motions across both arms at the same time. This was a first for simultaneous bimanual control.
It's amazing just how far we have come in a short time. It seems like every time you turn around, some new tech is created that mimics ideas seen in science fiction.