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I’ve posted about this before (here), but 60 Minutes did a nice special on the advancement of Robotic Limbs, so I thought I would post an update. The 2 main advancements I’ve noticed are that scientists have begun to add touch sensation to some of the prosthetics. This will give the user the feeling that the prosthetic is actually a part of them and not just some strapped-on tool. And secondly, this new brain-powered robotic arm appears to have much greater finesse than previous models.
I wrote a bit about how it works in the past, so I pasted that here:
The technology basically works by implanting a sensor in the motor cortex of the brain (see below). This sensor reads the brain’s electrical “thoughts” and then sends them to an external computer for decoding. This decoded signal is then transferred to the robotic arm so that it can deliver the coffee (or whatever else the user desires).
Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about the emerging field of Neuroengineering. Infection will always be a major concern for any implanted device, and especially when it’s located in the brain, but I’m sure scientists will find a way to make this feasible for the longterm. One day, you WILL see tetraplegics walking around in robotic suits.
Exciting things to come in 2013 and beyond!