Imagine yourself being a victim of a damaging war – that too because not only people died but also because some of them who survived, survived hard. They LOST THEIR ARMS! Think of it as a computer without a mouse and a keyboard, not even a touch screen. How could you possibly send input signals to your system? Possible? I don’t think so. A man without an arm or maybe both of them gone is a man with zero commands on his name. All he can do all day is nothing.
With the technology evolving, scientists and those big names did come up with a solid breakthrough. After a lot of research in the areas of prosthesis, they began to harness brain powers together with some external device to produce movement through the paralyzed part of your body. This external device was termed as a ‘robotic hand’.
Under the hood
I would like to narrate a story behind this whole idea of a robotic arm.
An authorized person from the US Defence Department came to Inventor Dean Kamen and described the situation of those 1600 children from war who had returned home with either one or both of their arms gone. He wanted Kamen to figure something out that could help these amputees perform some smaller tasks. Kamen took the idea as ‘impossible’ since no such technology was available that could provide a service just like a human hand. But then he took a few visits in different parts of Unite States for research purposes. Thereafter, he put up a team together on a mission to bring the possible out of the word im-possible. After all, the idea of a robotic hand was not TOTALLY nuts.
Kamen, along with his team built a device that was so small that it could fit 50th percentile of a female. Basically, this small so that it could fit any of the people. It had the ability to rotate 14 out of 21 degrees to produce useful arm and finger movements. Motors were used to replace muscles and rubber to replace skin.
The device was later tested for nose-scratching, picking up a 6 pound water bottle and drinking from it, and picking up a piece of paper and rotating in different directions. The device was good to go!
Improving technology for the sense of touch
Now that you see a lot of development in almost every sector, be it tech related or un-related, research teams from Melbourne University and St. Vincent’s Hospital-based Aikenhead Center for Medical Discovery also collaborated to bring improvement in the already designed robotic hand.
This project of prosthesis was being carried out to figure out a way to transmit signals between the brain and the artificial robotic hand back and forth. As I mentioned above, this could help them generate the sense of touch.
That was their motto. A device was already created to perform tasks but now they were dealing with more than just a device. They wanted the invention to go NATURAL and function like a normal human hand that could feel and perceive pressure. The concept behind the whole idea is the 3D printing that would create a blue print of every little details of the limb and then print the exact image of the other arm. In case, both of the arms are gone, blue prints of a standard robotic arms are available on the internet as an open source. All thanks to Open Bionics!
The development is not out in the open yet but the work is going on. As someone rightly said, there is always something good coming, remember that!’