Technology isn’t just limited for our own leisure and enjoyment. Take yourself away from the typical thoughts of fancy gadgets like advanced dashboard technology for your cars or high-end entertainment technology systems. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has taking technological advancements and knowledge to another realm with their neurotechnology breakthrough.
Since the launch of the Revolutionizing Prosthetics program in 2006, the agency has made many steps towards creating module systems that work to benefit individuals who are in need of prosthetics. These included two anthropomorphic advance modular prototype prosthetic arm systems, complete with sockets offering a wide range of motion, dexterity and control just like a normal arm.
Moving forward to 2015, DARPA has taken it a few gigantic steps forward with prosthetics. A 28-year-old, who has been paralyzed for over a decade, has become the first person to have physical sensation while using a prosthetic. In simple terms, the brain controls the hand, meaning that engineers have been able to successfully connect his thoughts to the prosthetic. Electrode arrays are attached to the sensory cortex of the brain, which is responsible for tactile sensations, and also placed on the motor cortex, which is responsible for directing body movements.
So where does the touch part come in? The special hand contains highly sophisticated torque sensors that can detect when pressure is being applied to the fingers, and converts those signals of touch directly to the brain, giving the user an experience that have not felt in a long time. That’s pretty amazing if you ask us.
As DARPA program manager Justin Sanchez states, “We’ve completed the circuit. 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.”
Story By: Carla Francisco
Images By: DARPA