See Lunocet’s dolphin-like prosthetics in motion

Posted by on July 27th, 2010

We’ve mentioned Lunocet’s dolphin-like prosthetics for swimming before, but this is the first video I’ve seen of them in motion:

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They’re now saying “the tails – attachable to human feet for dolphin-kick swimming – help users attain speeds twice as fast as the swiftest Olympic swimmer.”

They sure look better than those jumping stilts. And free diving is fun.

via Warren Ellis

Further advances in Mind Control

Posted by on July 23rd, 2010

Here, have a TED Talk about Emotiv‘s EPOC neuroheadset:

Meanwhile, DARPA are looking into wiring prosthetic arms straight into patient’s brains:

A team of scientists at Johns Hopkins, behind much of Darpa’s prosthetic progress thus far, have received a $34.5 million contract from the agency to manage the next stages of the project. Researchers will test the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL) on a human. The test subject’s thoughts will control the arm, which “offers 22 degrees of motion, including independent movement of each finger,” provides feedback that essentially restores a sense of touch, and weighs around 9 pounds. That’s about the same weight as a human arm.

The prosthetic will rely on micro-arrays, implanted into the brain, that record signals and transmit them to the device. It’s a similar design to that of the freaky monkey mind-control experiments, which have been ongoing at the University of Pittsburgh since at least 2004.

Within two years, Johns Hopkins scientists plan to test the prosthetic in five patients. And those researchers, alongside a Darpa-funded consortium from Caltech, University of Pittsburgh, University of Utah and the University of Chicago, also hope to expand prosthetic abilities to incorporate pressure and touch.


Prosthetic feet makes this a cyborg kitty cat

Posted by on July 11th, 2010

The Internet loves cats, we all know that. So the Internet will be pleased to learn that when this napping kitty cat got it’s legs chopped off by a combine harvester, while it was lying in the sun, a local vet made sure it could get back on it’s feet.

More now, from BBC News:

The prosthetic pegs, called intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthetics (Itaps) were developed by a team from University College London led by Professor Gordon Blunn, who is head of UCL’s Centre for Biomedical Engineering.

Professor Blunn and his team have worked in partnership with Mr Fitzpatrick to develop these weight-bearing implants, combining engineering mechanics with biology.

Mr Fitzpatrick explained: “The real revolution with Oscar is [that] we have put a piece of metal and a flange into which skin grows into an extremely tight bone.”

“We have managed to get the bone and skin to grow into the implant and we have developed an ‘exoprosthesis’ that allows this implant to work as a see-saw on the bottom of an animal’s limbs to give him effectively normal gait.”

As this clip from The Bionic Vet shows, science is all about looks of glee, surgical hi-fives and, of course, duct tape:

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via Next Nature


These Legs Were Made For Walkin’

Posted by on April 21st, 2010

Do yourself a favour and check out today’s COILHOUSE’s article on Kim Graham’s Weta Legs.

Even if these backwards-facing legs are not your particular cup of tea, you can at least be happy that we are entering the age of functional commercially available designer prosthetics.   If you did want to stride out into your favourite urban or rural environment upon mechano-hooves, you could do so with these for under a grand.  (Which, you know, is still a lot of money, but progress is what progress is.)

Now, you get the talented Ms. Graham to combine her new legs with PowerIzers or AirTrekkers or even Cheetahs

…and stand back and watch while tribes of folks in prosthetic legs run along the outskirts of the city at upwards of 20 MPH, hurtling high over the heads of commuters.  Well, I mean, that’s what I see in my head at least.

[Coilhouse - Inventor/Sculptor Kim Graham’s Weta Legs]

Amber Case: Cyborg Anthropologist

Posted by on March 20th, 2010

What exactly is a cyborg anthropologist? 

Let Amber herself tell you, in this video from late last year on ‘prosthetic culture’:

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Like to know more?  Our friends over at Technoccult just did a great interview with her.

Thanks for the YouTube link Vertigo Jones!

New polymer to give robots sensitive skin

Posted by on February 23rd, 2010

From Technology Review:

The UK company Peratech, which last month signed a deal to develop novel pressure-sensing technology for screen maker Nissha, has announced that it will use the same approach to make artificial “skin” for the MIT Media Lab.

Peratech makes an electrically conductive material called quantum tunneling composite (QTC). When the material is compressed electrons jump between two conductors separated by polymer insulating layer covered with metallic nanoparticles. QTC has already been used to make small sensors for NASA’s Robonaut and for a robotic gripper made by Shadow Robot Company.

QTC robot skin could perhaps let a robot know precisely where it has been touched, and with how much pressure. It could also be helpful in designing machines that have better grasping capabilities, and for developing more natural ways for machines to interact with humans.

The company says QTC can be screen-printed as a flexible, robust sheet as thin as 75 microns or made into a coating just 10 microns thick. Because the material reacts only when a force is applied, it consumes little power. And it’s flexibility will let it conform to unique robotic shapes.

First factory robots, then better prosthetics and in the future, whole new sensory organs for posthumans, I say.

(OK, fine, and better sexbots..)

Mind-controlled prosthetic hand

Posted by on December 2nd, 2009

From Yahoo! News:

An Italian who lost his left forearm in a car crash was successfully linked to a robotic hand, allowing him to feel sensations in the artificial limb and control it with his thoughts, scientists said Wednesday.

During a one-month experiment conducted last year, 26-year-old Pierpaolo Petruzziello felt like his lost arm had grown back again, although he was only controlling a robotic hand that was not even attached to his body.

Petruzziello, an Italian who lives in Brazil, said the feedback he got from the hand was amazingly accurate.

“It felt almost the same as a real hand. They stimulated me a lot, even with needles … you can’t imagine what they did to me,” he joked with reporters.

While the “LifeHand” experiment lasted only a month, this was the longest time electrodes had remained connected to a human nervous system in such an experiment, said Silvestro Micera, one of the engineers on the team. Similar, shorter-term experiments in 2004-2005 hooked up amputees to a less-advanced robotic arm with a pliers-shaped end, and patients were only able to make basic movements, he said.

Experts not involved in the study told The Associated Press the experiment was an important step forward in creating a viable interface between the nervous system and prosthetic limbs, but the challenge now is ensuring that such a system can remain in the patient for years and not just a month.

via Joshua Ellis

First prosthetic hand connected directly to nerve endings

Posted by on October 23rd, 2009

Via BotJunkie comes the video a lot of people have been waiting a long time to see; an actual, functional cyborg hand:

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Sarah Reinertsen Poses Nude for ESPN Cover

Posted by on October 12th, 2009

In a display of how times are changing in regards to visual representations of the differently able as well as the mass-media relationship with prosthetics and those who use them, athlete Sarah Reinertsen graces the cover of this week’s ESPN Magazine.


Reinersten was the first female leg amputee to complete the Ironman World Triathlon, she was also featured in The Amazing Race 10.  More NSFW pictures from the shoot can be found on ESPN’s site as well as within the magazine, which was released Friday, October 9th.

the man with the transplanted hands

Posted by on October 6th, 2009

The Lancaster Online reports:

..the double transplant was a bit of setback for Kepner, who had lost part of both of his arms and legs in 1999…After the amputations, Kepner was outfitted with prosthetic hands and feet and forged on with his life.

“He had gotten quite used to his hooks,” his mother says of her son’s artificial arms. “He could dress himself. He could drive his car. He could do a lot of things.”

…after the double hand transplant, Kepner had to start over again…Now in therapy, he is learning how to pick up small items, like cotton balls, and catch a ball, but he still has no feeling in his fingers. The nerves grow about an inch a month from where the hands were attached, at the forearm.

“They told him it will be at least until the end of the year before those nerves get down into those fingers,” Doris Schafer said. “Then he’ll begin to do things.”

via BoingBoing

Prosthetics with aesthetics

Posted by on October 5th, 2009

Concept prosthetic porn:

This prosthetic arm was designed by Hans Alexander Huseklepp, a designer in Norway.

It is designed to be connected to the wearer’s nervous system, like the most advanced, but less aesthetically designed, prosthetics currently are.

Because each of its joints is a globe joint it is capable of a larger freedom of movement than a normal human arm.

The exterior parts of the arm are made from the plastic Corian, the inner layer is textile.

This image is a model built to demonstrate the concept.


Aliens-esque Power Loader suit, coming 2015

Posted by on September 30th, 2009

Continuing it’s mission to make everything from a sf movie and/or anime exist in reality, Japanese scientists at a subdivision of Panasonic give you this.. the power loader from Aliens:

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As Pink Tentacle write, it’s

..a “dual-arm power amplification robot,” the exoskeleton suit is currently equipped with 18 electromagnetic motors that enable the wearer to lift 100 kilograms (220 lbs) with little effort.

The bad news? You won’t be screaming “get away from her you BITCH” anytime soon; estimated retail release is 2015. Still, mech-future here we come!

Bionic Athlete Aimee Mullins To Speak At TEDMED 2009

Posted by on August 11th, 2009

From Chris Jacob at

Mullins has been instrumental in changing the public perception of prosthetics. After setting multiple world records at the 1996 Paralympic games, she has used her modeling, athletic and film careers to end the idea that prosthetics are a mark of disability. Instead, she’s shown the world that bionic limbs can enable some amazing things. As a guy who’s barely 5’8″ on a good day, listening to Mullins talk about how easy and fun it is to change her height on a whim does sound like a pretty incredible ability to have.

TEDMED has speakers on:

Oscar Pistorius – posthuman sports pioneer

Posted by on August 9th, 2009

We’ve been following the Oscar Pistorius story pretty closely here and for important reasons.  He was the first amputee capable, and ultimately, despite contention, allowed to compete against full-bodied opponents in the Olympics.

In the end, he just missed out on qualifying for the 400m sprint and an important moment in sports history was delayed..  but that hasn’t stopped the examination of what advantage his prosthetics give him.  Yes, advantage! That is why we’re tracking this so closely.

From Technology Review:

According to Peter Weyand, a physiologist and biomechanist at Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, and lead author of the study, much of Pistorius’s hearing focused on the wrong issue. “There was a lot of attention given to the question of whether his blades allowed him to run with less energy than other runners, which is pretty much irrelevant in sprinting,” says Weyand. “It’s sort of like arguing that a Volkswagen will beat a Porsche in a drag race because it gets better gas mileage.” Fuel economy is not the determining factor in sprint races, he explains: “When sprinting, animals are not energy limited; the mechanics are the limiting factor.”

Previous research also shows that both elite and ordinary runners with intact legs tend to move their limbs at a similar speed. Pistorius, on the other hand, “can reposition his limbs a lot faster than anyone we’ve ever measured,” says Weyand. But the scientists don’t yet know how to interpret this finding: does it represent an advantage of his comparatively light carbon limbs, or is it merely compensation for the fact that he can’t hit the ground with as much force as intact-limbed runners? “There is no real evidence he has an advantage over others, and there is some evidence the prostheses are a hindrance,” says Daniel Ferris, a biomechanist at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, who was not involved in the study.

“The science is still immature, and we don’t know for certain why he’s mechanically distinct–whether it’s because of his prostheses or because of his biology,” says Herr.  One way to answer that question would be to study a runner with one intact and one prosthetic leg and directly compare the biological side to the artificial side–an experiment that Herr says is in the works.

One possible explanation for Pistorius’s unusual pattern, says Herr, is that because he does not have calf muscles, the amputee runner is actually at a disadvantage during the first 200 meters–the acceleration phase of the race. It may be in the second half of the race that Pistorius’s inherent talent becomes clear. “Oscar is an outlier,” says Herr, who is a double amputee himself. “The Cheetah has been available to athletes for 15 years, but no one has been able to run as fast as Oscar.”  However, Herr says that scientists haven’t yet studied Pistorius and others as they accelerate.

The research is also helping scientists better understand the basics of running. “The Oscar Pistorius case has injected a great deal of interest in the area of bipedal sprinting,” says Herr. “By looking at the differences between amputee and intact-legged runners, we can more fundamentally understand the running mechanism and what is most important for speed.” Relatively little research has been done on the mechanics of sprinting, even in intact-legged runners, partly because it’s difficult to study people moving at such fast speeds. The new research was done using a special treadmill–one of only two or three such machines in the country.

Ferris says that the findings also point to ways that running prostheses could be improved. “One thing to try would be a prosthesis with adjustable stiffness,” he says. “That way, runners may be able to generate higher forces at certain points in the race.”

Absolutely fascinating; one man from South Africa making people see that to be different, isn’t to be less.. it can be so much more.

High Speed Robotic Hands

Posted by on August 4th, 2009
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All I can say is I want some.

via Beyond The Beyond | Bot Junkie

Osseointegrated Prosthetics

Posted by on July 9th, 2009

Representing the next phase of prosthetic technology, osseointegrated prosthetics are faux limbs that knit themselves with the person’s bone. Since the prosthetic is attached to the bone itself, it creates a more natural movement for the wearer. Last January, we reported on the first dog candidate Cassidy, to receive the new technology. This week, National Geographic is reporting that the German shepard is doing well with his new limb.

Link and photo via

See also:

Thanks to LBA for the link to the update!

The brain’s internal map adapts to include prosthetics

Posted by on June 22nd, 2009

From New Scientist:

The brain maintains a physical map of the body, with different areas in charge of different body parts. Researchers have suggested that when we use tools, our brains incorporate them into this map.

To test the idea, Alessandro Farné of the University of Claude Bernard in Lyon, France, and colleagues attached a mechanical grabber to the arms of 14 volunteers. The modified subjects then used the grabber to pick up out-of-reach objects.

Shortly afterwards, the volunteers perceived touches on their elbow and fingertip as further apart than they really were, and took longer to point to or grasp objects with their hand than prior to using the tool.

The explanation, say the team, is that their brains had adjusted the brain areas that normally control the arm to account for the tool and not yet adjusted back to normal.

“This is the first evidence that tool use alters the body [map],” says Farné.

Farné says the same kind of brain “plasticity” might be involved in regaining control of a transplanted hand or a prosthetic limb when the original has been lost.

via Cat Vincent

The Chariot mobility device

Posted by on April 16th, 2009

From medGadget:

As you can see in the clip, movement of the device is controlled through subtle movements of the hips and lower torso by sensing pressure changes and weight balance shifting. This is battery operated with a reported top speed of 12 MPH.

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Aimee Mullins’ TED Talk: How my legs give me super-powers

Posted by on March 23rd, 2009

via willowbl00

See Also:

usb memory stick in prosthetic finger

Posted by on March 9th, 2009

Henri Bergius shows us what happens when reality meets product concepts:

The story behind this is that Jerry had a motorcycle accident last May and lost a finger. When the doctor working on the artificial finger heard he is a hacker, the immediate suggestion was to embed a USB “finger drive” to the design. Now he carries a Billix Linux distribution and the Freddy Got Fingered movie as part of his hand.

thanks to Dan Ballard for the tip-off!