Perspectives

New DARPA Technology Allows Users to Experience a Near-Natural Sense of Touch With a Prosthetic Arm

DARPA Luke Prosthetic Arm
photo via DARPA

New technology created by the DARPA project Revolutionizing Prosthetics allows users to experience a near-natural sense of touch with a prosthetic arm. The development gives users a literal new sense of control over their prosthetics, allowing for more precise control and manipulation of objects with the prosthetic.

The sense of touch is created by connecting the prosthetic directly to the brain to provide sensory feedback. A 28-year-old volunteer who tested the new technology was blindfolded and asked which of the prosthetic’s fingers were being touch. The man was able to state correctly which fingers were being touched, even when researchers attempted to fool him by pressing two fingers at the same time.

DARPA program manager Justin Sanchez said in an official statement,

Prosthetic limbs that can be controlled by thoughts are showing great promise, but without feedback from signals traveling back to the brain it can be difficult to achieve the level of control needed to perform precise movements. By wiring a sense of touch from a mechanical hand directly into the brain, this work shows the potential for seamless bio-technological restoration of near-natural function.

DEKA Arm drinks bottle of water

DEKA Arm drinks bottle of water

photos via DEKA Research

via Quartz


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