Monday, June 8, 2009

Cybernetic hand to be ready for Bionic Fashion Week 2009

proto_2_bionic_arm.jpg

Think cyborgs are purely science fiction? If the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) has anything to say about it, they'll be reality by the end of the decade. The APL has given itself until 2009 to create a prosthetic hand that moves and feels just like the real thing. Ambitious, guys, but we're all for it.

Shown above is the prototype, called Proto 2, which APL hopes to show off at a technology symposium run by DARPA, the Pentagon's research agency, known for projects both practical and wacky. Since most of today's amputees opt for simple hooks and the like instead of the current crop of bionic limbs, it's clear some work has to be done to truly bring artificial limbs into the 21st Century.

The main issue is creating a hand with fine articulation that's easily controlled. While the current approach involves injecting rice-size sensors into muscles, the APL scientists say they will ultimately have to attach electrodes directly to either the nerves or the brain in order to grant the user full dexterity. Despite the challenges, we're totally behind a project that could mean a much rosier future for amputees, even if it'll probably worry a few Time Lords

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