Join 3,415 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Paralyzed Woman Controls Robotic Arm With Her Mind
May 16, 2012 9:27 PM   Subscribe

For the first time since she was paralyzed by a stroke 15 years ago, a woman in the BrainGate2 clinical trial served herself a drink of coffee ... with a brain-controlled robot arm (with heartwarming video)
posted by crayz (8 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I saw this today and almost cried at the smile at the end. Can't even imagine...
posted by gemmy at 9:37 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a very good thing. The sensory equipment can be made very much more sensitive than is required to achieve this fairly low level of dexterity. Over time the brain adapts, and feedback will improve the user's fine control over the prosthesis.

Replacing lost functions of the natural human body is a mere beginning. Potentially this is is the neurological jack of cyberpunk fiction, a USB port for the brain, and you will be able to plug in whatever devices, real or virtual, you have taught yourself to control.

There are some cautions around this: cancer and blood poisoning, loss of actual motor function if those areas of the brain are retrained (although they could likely be trained again), and semi-voluntary twitching and "tics" that could cause serious injury to others or the user. However, this may be as socially significant a development as widespread car use, or mobile telephones.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:39 PM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


The article in Nature: Reach and grasp by people with tetraplegia using a neurally controlled robotic arm (subscription required).
posted by homunculus at 11:22 PM on May 16, 2012


Now that is Interface Design.
posted by colie at 2:26 AM on May 17, 2012


One thing that astonishes me about this, in addition to all the obvious things, is how well her proprioception (apologies if I am using a technical term incorrectly) works here. She's controlling a larger-than-life mechanical arm whose shoulder joint is a couple of feet away from her as if it were part of her own body. I can bring a thermos to my mouth without thinking but controlling an external object to do the same thing is much harder.
posted by dfan at 6:15 AM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now they need to combine this technology with the Big Dog robot. I'm thinking mobility and manipulation. The army of brain-controlled robots can come later.
posted by happyroach at 8:19 AM on May 17, 2012


One thing that astonishes me about this, in addition to all the obvious things, is how well her proprioception (apologies if I am using a technical term incorrectly) works here. She's controlling a larger-than-life mechanical arm whose shoulder joint is a couple of feet away from her as if it were part of her own body. I can bring a thermos to my mouth without thinking but controlling an external object to do the same thing is much harder.

The neat thing about this is: it's actually not. Human beings are very easily fooled into believing that foreign objects are part of the body as long as some degree of feedback is present. Given smooth and immediate feedback, it's not at all surprising that this patient was able to use the mechanical hand like a real hand.
posted by vorfeed at 10:40 AM on May 17, 2012


The army of brain-controlled robots can come later.

But not much later. We gimps are anxious to get on with our robot-assisted revolution.
posted by wintermute2_0 at 4:30 PM on May 18, 2012


« Older Rethinking "Mother died today": Translating a work...  |  "I can say with confidence tha... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments