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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

May The Force Be With You

Straight Out of a Galaxy Far, Far Away, Woman Has a Robotic Arm She Can Control With Her Mind

When we’re taking Star Wars tech, Luke Skywalker’s robotic hand isn’t as flashy as, say, lightsabers or X-Wings. It looks and acts just like a normal hand, after all. That’s the point. But while I often joke about wanting to own a real lightsaber (except I’m not joking—I totally want a real lightsaber), even I have to admit that a functional robotic limb that can be controlled by the mind of its wearer is far and away more practical than a sword that’s also a laser.

Which is why it’s so awesome that Jan Scheuermann, 53 years of age and paralyzed from the neck down, now has a robotic arm that she can control just like a normal arm using only her brain.

Science, man.

Scientists implanted two microelectrodes, each with a hundred tiny needles to pick up electrical activity from individual cells, into Scheuermann’s motor cortex. The microelectrodes translate the electrical pulses fired between neurons into commands, which allows Scheuermann to move her robotic arm with “co-ordination, skill and speed almost similar to that of an able-bodied person,” according to the official paper on the study.

Scheuermann learned to use her new arm after just 13 weeks of training, which was much quicker than scientists anticipated. Says University of Pittsburgh professor of neurobiology Andrew Schwartz, who led the study,

“[The arm's movements] are fluid and… way better than anything that’s been demonstrated before. I think it really is convincing evidence that this technology is going to be therapeutic for spinal cord injured people. They are doing tasks already that would be beneficial in their daily lives and I think that’s fairly conclusive at this point.”

As far as artificial hands are concerned, a Luke Skywalker is way better than a Dr. Strangelove. But you haven’t abandoned lightsabers yet, have you, scientists? Please?

(BBC via Gizmodo)

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  • Emi Savacool

    Does that mean they amputated her biological arm?

  • Teresa Kennedy

    I’m looking at the pic accompanying the BBC article, it seems to be a separate piece of equipment.

  • Ashe P. Samuels

    Technology is unbelievable. This is only going to get better from here, oh man.

    Hopefully this will be widely available once they figure out how to streamline it and implement at your average center, as this shouldn’t be kept from people who need it because of distance or money.

  • Chanel Diaz

    So Cool. I want to see the Video! :D

    I hope this becomes Available to Everyone who Needs this kind of Technology, one day.

  • Marian Hilliard

    In high school I was introduced to the Cyberpunk roleplaying game, which took place in 2013. Now it’s almost 2013 and we’ve got a working cyberarm.