"When I push on the ball of my foot, it rotates the wrist."
February 19, 2008 8:51 PM   Subscribe

Dean Kamen's Artificial "Luke" Arm - Segway inventor reinvents the prosthetic arm: "I've been able to do stuff with this that I haven't, seriously haven't, done in 26 years... uh, pick up a banana, peel a banana and eat it without it squishening... I can't wait to get one of these in a real environment, a home environment, and actually my wife can't either. She's going, oh yeah, I got lots of stuff for you to do."
posted by kliuless (59 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
oops, forgot! via :P
posted by kliuless at 8:53 PM on February 19, 2008


"I've been able to do stuff with this that I haven't, seriously haven't, done in 26 years... uh, pick up a banana, peel a banana and eat it without it squishening... I can't wait to get one of these in a real environment, a home environment, and actually my wife can't either. She's going, oh yeah, I got lots of stuff for you to do."

Oh god... why, when faced with news this great, does my mind go straight for the dirty innuendo?
posted by Kattullus at 9:05 PM on February 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Massively cool, and heartwarming as well. Thanks for the link.
posted by F Mackenzie at 9:11 PM on February 19, 2008


Neato.
posted by tkolar at 9:16 PM on February 19, 2008


It would be hard to calculate the number of lives that Kamen has improved. Saved, even.
posted by The Deej at 9:17 PM on February 19, 2008


Yeah, that's really amazing. I'll even refrain from trying to come up with some Segway-related snark, because of all the people this advancement will help. Well done, Kamen.
posted by dammitjim at 9:18 PM on February 19, 2008


Dean Kamen: New Prosthetic Arm for Veterans [at TED | 7:06].
posted by ericb at 9:20 PM on February 19, 2008


now I have two heros that are named k-man.
posted by ddaavviidd at 9:22 PM on February 19, 2008


How are people not excited about the future?
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:23 PM on February 19, 2008


Oh god... why, when faced with news this great, does my mind go straight for the dirty innuendo?

Because this prosthetic arm? It vibrates.
posted by The Monkey at 9:28 PM on February 19, 2008 [6 favorites]


Forget the Segway.

Let us praise Dean Kamen's iBOT Mobility System . While expensive and 'out-of-reach' for many -- his research and actions bode well for many disabled folks.

Let's hope that in the near future that costs come down and/or the government provides funds for those who can benefit most directly from Kamen's inventions.
posted by ericb at 9:28 PM on February 19, 2008


Kamen made this too. The iBOT.
posted by puke & cry at 9:28 PM on February 19, 2008


Jinx -- puke & cry -- you owe me a Coke!
posted by ericb at 9:31 PM on February 19, 2008


So long as we're confessing stuff, when the guy picked up the cordless drill, I tensed myself for the pandemonium to ensue as the arm stopped obeying commands and started down the path to world (or town) domination.
posted by christopherious at 9:31 PM on February 19, 2008


*Let's hope that in the near future that costs come down...*
posted by ericb at 9:32 PM on February 19, 2008


tensed --> braced
posted by christopherious at 9:35 PM on February 19, 2008


Yeah, I first saw an ad for the iBot mobility system the other day and just about cheered aloud. If he had to hammer out the gyroscopic details with that stupid Segway first, well....I'm glad he did it. The iBot looks like a fantastic advance. Imagine being chairbound and suddenly you can easily be at eye-level at service counters and get up a flight of steps unassisted.

Very, very cool.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:40 PM on February 19, 2008


Wow... this (unexpectedly) got me a little choked up. I work with a guy who makes very cool ceramic, wood, and glass artwork with one arm and one prosthetic that, despite being a hook/rubber band/hunk of plastic combo, he wields as a pretty amazing tool. I started thinking about what he could do with that level of control and dexterity.

On the other hand, he gets to use his current prosthetic in some pretty cool ways -- picking up molten glass, for example. I imagine the robot arm would not put up with that for long.
posted by medialyte at 9:43 PM on February 19, 2008


After RTFL, I am completely blown away by the dexterity of the prosthetic.

One cavet: homeboy cyborg needs a shirt
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 9:48 PM on February 19, 2008


Yeah, I first saw an ad for the iBot mobility system the other day and just about cheered aloud. If he had to hammer out the gyroscopic details with that stupid Segway first, well....I'm glad he did it.

Actually the iBot predates the Segway and contributed to its development.
posted by ericb at 9:56 PM on February 19, 2008


Oh god... why, when faced with news this great, does my mind go straight for the dirty innuendo?

It's gotta be the "oh yeah" in the quote. Best case, I hear it in the Kool-Aid Man voice. Worst case it's pure porn.
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:08 PM on February 19, 2008


Amazing stuff - the dexterity of the Luke arm is incredible.
posted by crossoverman at 10:10 PM on February 19, 2008


that stupid Segway

WTF? A lot of disabled people use the Segway. It may not be for you but don't knock it, disabilities come in many forms not always visible.
posted by stbalbach at 10:20 PM on February 19, 2008


I think people hate on the Segway because some people -- possibly including Kamen -- oversold self-same Segway somewhat.

Also, the Weird Al video.
posted by dhartung at 10:27 PM on February 19, 2008


You make it seem like Kamen lost his arm with how you grossly misused the colon.

This is still really awesome.
posted by boo_radley at 10:29 PM on February 19, 2008


Yeah, I have nothing but respect for Kamen. Super-inexpensive water purification systems, wheelchairs that climb stairs and roll on sandy beaches, a prosethic arm - these are the kinds of things that only someone like Kamen could come up with, because they're not particularly attractive to corporate R&D.

And he's made a pretty decent chunk of change. He's showing that yeah, it is worth the investment to do R&D that will help people, but I get the sense that he'd do it anyway.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 10:44 PM on February 19, 2008


that stupid Segway

WTF? A lot of disabled people use the Segway. It may not be for you but don't knock it, disabilities come in many forms not always visible.


Thank you for saying that. I've often felt that the Segway backlash is a shame, because there was a window of time in which it could have become a normal and accepted mobility device for non-disabled persons, and so persons with certain disabilities would have been able to use them to get around without the stigma of being disabled.

Instead, they get around without the stigma of being disabled, but with the stigma of being a douche for riding a Segway.
posted by davejay at 11:55 PM on February 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


It is wonderful when the future becomes the present and it's just as awesome as promised.
posted by Kattullus at 12:01 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is really very cool. Despite what you might think about the Segway, Dean is one of the more innovative minds of recent history.
posted by socalsamba at 12:15 AM on February 20, 2008


What a great advancement, but I can't help wondering how great it would be if we didn't actually participate in in activities that got kids arms blown off.

I'd love a Segway too.
posted by sfts2 at 12:59 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Holy fuck, we are living in the future.

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
"It's not like I'm using," Case heard someone say, as he shouldered his way through the crowd around the door of the Chat. "It's like my body's developed this massive drug deficiency." It was a Sprawl voice and a Sprawl joke. The Chatsubo was a bar for professional expatriates; you could drink there for a week and never hear two words in Japanese.
Ratz was tending bar, his prosthetic arm jerking monotonously as he filled a tray of glasses with draft Kirin. He saw Case and smiled, his teeth a webwork of East European steel and brown decay. Case found a place at the bar, between the unlikely tan on one of Lonny Zone's whores and the crisp naval uniform of a tall African whose cheekbones were ridged with precise rows of tribal scars. "Wage was in here early, with two joeboys," Ratz said, shoving a draft across the bar with his good hand. "Maybe some business with you, Case?"
Case shrugged. The girl to his right giggled and nudged him.
The bartender's smile widened. His ugliness was the stuff of legend. In an age of affordable beauty, there was something heraldic about his lack of it. The antique arm whined as he reached for another mug. It was a Russian military prosthesis, a seven-function force-feedback manipulator, cased in grubby pink plastic. "You are too much the artiste, Herr Case." Ratz grunted; the sound served him as laughter. He scratched his overhang of white-shirted belly with the pink claw. "You are the artiste of the slightly funny deal."

posted by empath at 1:12 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


The future is a vibrant, plastic age of innuendo. There will be subtext to everything, and by switch of a mind, everything can be turned into porn. Much like internet, but for every media. Can you hear the fat bass of the future calling?
posted by Free word order! at 3:23 AM on February 20, 2008


"squishening"?
posted by Silky Slim at 3:42 AM on February 20, 2008


Imagine being chairbound and suddenly you can easily be at eye-level at service counters and get up a flight of steps unassisted.

My understanding is that most people do need assistance to get up stairs in the iBOT; it's just that it's possible to get it up stairs, whereas with a traditional power chair, you're sorta screwed.

To be honest, I've seen a lot more utilization of stock Segways - or home-modified stock Segways - by disabled people than I have of the iBOT. Not the same user populations, certainly, but the Segway is affordable, the iBOT is not, and while the Segway may not have been designed with disabled users in mind, it's not hard to modify it for particular users.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 3:57 AM on February 20, 2008


What a great advancement, but I can't help wondering how great it would be if we didn't actually participate in in activities that got kids arms blown off.
posted by sfts2 at 3:59 AM on February 20 [+] [!]


You'll note the individual featured in the article lost both arms in a painting accident. So, unless you were railing against the overuse of painted surfaces.....
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:37 AM on February 20, 2008


Oh god... why, when faced with news this great, does my mind go straight for the dirty innuendo?

What innuendo? It never even crossed my mind that there was anything even remotely dirty about that statement. Get your mind outta the gutter.
posted by Doohickie at 6:00 AM on February 20, 2008


NotMyselfRightNow - did you actually watch the video? The genesis of this project was funded by DARPA for research into rehab of military casualties. So I guess that trumps your single exception.
posted by sfts2 at 6:03 AM on February 20, 2008


Made me think of that bit in Neuromancer, too, empath. And not to be all Debbie Downer about this, but I have to wonder just how used to seeing these (or something like them, but probably cheaper) we'll be in ten years or so. What Kamen's doing here is amazing; I just wish the need for it weren't what it must be.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:18 AM on February 20, 2008


I found this unexpectedly touching. Good on you, Kamen.
posted by Pecinpah at 6:35 AM on February 20, 2008


This is the best of humanity.
posted by oddman at 7:10 AM on February 20, 2008


Does this mean he'll invent a lightsaber next? (pretty please?)
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:12 AM on February 20, 2008


My understanding is that most people do need assistance to get up stairs in the iBOT; it's just that it's possible to get it up stairs, whereas with a traditional power chair, you're sorta screwed.

Not necessarily. If I had one, I'd be able to stairclimb. It's a question of upper body strength and coordination: you need to grip handrails to help stabilize the chair. Read more here.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 7:21 AM on February 20, 2008


Great invention. Thanks for the post.
posted by Argyle at 7:33 AM on February 20, 2008


Without prosthetic skin, I believe this is technically an Anakin arm.
posted by designbot at 8:09 AM on February 20, 2008


Stupid question: how does the arm know what the wearer wants to do with it?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:29 AM on February 20, 2008


Segways are indeed used by lots of disabled folk. It can be helpful for anything from chronic fatigue to lack of legs. Pic is from DRAFT, or Disability Rights Advocates for Technology.

Also, I love my segway. Fuck the haters calling me lazy from atop their SUVs.
posted by hellphish at 8:30 AM on February 20, 2008


Dean Kamen is one of my personal gods. He's like that one joke, you invent an insulin pump, a mobile dialysis machine, a motorized wheelchair that lets disabled people operate in the same envelope as an upright person, a world-beating prosthetic arm, and a program to get high-school students interested in science and engineering by building robots and still nobody has heard of him.

But you invent one Segway...
posted by Skorgu at 9:07 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


cowbellemoo wrote...
Does this mean he'll invent a lightsaber next? (pretty please?)

It would certainly help the sales of his prosthetics...
posted by tkolar at 9:18 AM on February 20, 2008


because there was a window of time in which it could have become a normal and accepted mobility device for non-disabled persons

When was that?

and so persons with certain disabilities would have been able to use them to get around without the stigma of being disabled

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18849135/

I don't see why persons with any disabilities would want to be associated with the lazy, but obviously the lazy are a bigger market. I mean the scooter is an alternative to driving for short trips, the segway always looked like an alternative to walking for even shorter trips. And thankfully scooters don't drive on the sidewalk.
posted by Wood at 9:20 AM on February 20, 2008


Wood, the Segway is not a medical device. For it to be called a medical device it would have to pass FDA approval which is a long and expensive process. Also, DEKA sold the rights to medical self-balancing technology to J&J, so legally, Segway Inc. can't manufacture any medical devices.
posted by hellphish at 9:56 AM on February 20, 2008


Cool article from Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle from a disabled user of a Segway.
Please don't push me off my Segway.
posted by shoesietart at 10:14 AM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


StrikeTheViol: Nifty. I'd thought that the strength requirements were really high. They're still almost certainly too high for me anyway (and I definitely don't have the reach for it), but it's good to know the iBOT is more useful than I'd realized.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 10:22 AM on February 20, 2008


That is some crazy ass terminator shit right there. Science is fucking crazy.
posted by chunking express at 1:01 PM on February 20, 2008


That arm is even more impressive than the fact that there actually exists a video with Dean Kamen in it in which he does not once ride a segway.
posted by shmegegge at 2:07 PM on February 20, 2008


Dean Kamen is awesome. My dad saw him at a recent convention in San Diego where he was one of the speakers. I made a joke, like, "Did he beg everyone in the audience to buy Segways?"

But apparently he was like, "Well, I'd talk about my company and what we're doing, but I only have so much time allotted, so I'm going to devote my whole speech to what I'm really interested in," which is his foundation that helps high school kids discover science and engineering.

Like Skorgu said, it's kind of hard to throw snark at a guy who does so much good in the world, Segway or no Segway.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:48 PM on February 20, 2008


because there was a window of time in which it could have become a normal and accepted mobility device for non-disabled persons

When was that?


In the few days after release; if the media had gotten on board (pun intended) and published "hey, look, cool!" articles, and Leonardo DiCaprio was seen riding one (remember the publicity for Toyota when he bought a 1st-gen Prius?) they might be considered more socially acceptable.

It's sad, but the real-world usefulness of a product can be impacted and possibly diminished if the image it conveys is flawed, and only part of that image comes directly from the product itself -- after all, people think Scion xBs are trendy, but they're sold to a heck of a lot of older practical folks (because they're economical and roomy and practical and inexpensive.)

Instead, the hype machine got out of control before the product was released, and so the media said "oh, this is a disappointment" and so did everyone else. If the product was unveiled without the overkill hype, public acceptance might have been more likely. Think how successful the Scion xB would have been if it had been preceeded by months of "OMG it's going to do the quarter mile in 14 seconds and get 45mpg and hover!" media speculation.

The truth is, practical and useful machines -- even if they're overpriced -- have a place in this world, but when there's a narrow stereotype associated with them we all lose. At the end of the day, it's like the kid on the playground who gets frostbite because his peers say gloves aren't cool; nobody wins.
posted by davejay at 5:54 PM on February 20, 2008


davejay, overhype doesn't give anyone the right to shove people off Segways (which happens apparently; I'm shocked). I don't think it gives anyone a right to engage in public mockery of others either.

Seriously, what skin is it off anyone's nose if someone rides a Segway? Who cares if their reason is "legitimate" or not.

The people complaining about Segways and how fast they go are probably fatties that take up the whole sidewalk and move at a snail's pace anyway....

(Tongue-in-cheek? You'll never know!)
posted by vsync at 6:16 PM on February 20, 2008


Stupid question: how does the arm know what the wearer wants to do with it?

Normally, muscle twitches or movement in other parts of the body.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 8:27 PM on February 20, 2008


go straight for the dirty innuendo

cuz it's only natural after 26 years without arms to wanna peel a banana :P

oh and sorry i grossly misused the colon!
posted by kliuless at 7:29 PM on February 21, 2008


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