Monday, August 10, 2009

Real-Life Star Wars Tech: DEKA's "Luke Arm"

Dean Kamen (aka the guy that invented the Segway and the IBOT) and his company, DEKA, have developed and built a prototype artificial arm that was inspired by the arm used by Luke Skywalker (hence the reason it is called the Luke Arm) in Star Wars. It came about when the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration, or DARPA, created a program to develop advanced artificial limbs for injured soldiers. As you can see in the clip, it is designed from inception to be easily tailored to most types of amputations with its modular design. It is relatively light with the limb weighing about 8 pounds including all the electronics and batteries. The advanced electronics that manage all the arm's movements allow for agile and delicate movement and articulation of the arm, hand, and fingers. Control of the limb can be done through a variety of methods and even has allowances for feedback so the user can have some sensation from the limb. Pretty amazing stuff. As it is still in the prototype stage, it will be some time before it will be available to the public but with the relative success of Dean Kamen's previous projects (Segway, IBOT), I am sure it will be an amazing piece of technology that will help countless people. May the force be with you :)

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