New Star Wars Prosthetic Arm Can Sense, Touch, Move With Your Thoughts
A team led by University of Utah biomedical engineering associate professor Gregory Clark, has developed a new prosthetic arm that can mimic the way a human hand feels objects by sending signals to the brain. The arm has been named the "LUKE Arm" after the robotic hand that Luke Skywalker had in "The Empire Strikes Back."
"We changed the way we are sending that information to the brain so that it matches the human body. And by matching the human body, we were able to see improved benefits," Clark said. "We're making more biologically realistic signals."
Fifteen years in development, the arm is made of mostly metal motors and parts with a clear silicon "skin" over the hand. Amputees using the prosthetic arm can perform a variety of delicate tasks that would otherwise be impossible with a standard prosthetic.
This is because the arm is equipped with a system that allows the prosthetic arm to tap into the wearer's nerves thanks to an invention by University of Utah biomedical engineering Emeritus Distinguished Professor Richard A. Normann called the Utah Slanted Electrode Array. The arm can then sense, touch and move with the wearer's thoughts.
The findings are published in a new paper co-authored by U biomedical engineering doctoral student Jacob George, former doctoral student David Kluger, Clark and other colleagues in the latest edition of the journal Science Robotics.