Paralyzed woman surprises researchers with skillful use of mind-controlled robotic arm

mind controlled robotic arm robotWhile brain-controlled robotic limbs have been in development for a number of years now, the amount of control and accuracy of movement has increased dramatically recently, offering real hope to those with paralysis.

One woman, Jan Scheuermann, has surprised researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center with her high level of skill and agility in controlling a robotic arm through thought alone.

Fifty-two-year-old Scheuermann was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease over 10 years ago and is now paralyzed from the neck down. According to a recent Reuters report, she “was able to operate the robotic arm with a level of control and fluidity not seen before in this type of advanced prosthesis.”

After weeks of special training, Scheuermann was able to control the arm with great skill, lifting objects and moving them to requested locations with an impressive 91.6 percent success rate. The video below demonstrates a number of intricate movements Scheuermann was able to make using the system.

The University of Pittsburgh’s technology comprises two microelectrodes that are attached to the part of a person’s brain that initiates movement. A patient’s thoughts pass to the robotic arm via a computer running a complex algorithm which interprets the brain signals and transforms them into physical actions. And that’s putting it very simply.

Speaking to Reuters about the technology, one of the researchers working on the project, Michael Boninger, described the electrodes as “remarkable” considering their tiny size. “You can’t buy them in Radio Shack,” he quipped.

According to Boninger, the real leap forward has come with the development of the algorithm.

“There is no limit now to decoding human motion,” he said, adding that although the challenges increase when working on parts like the hand, a greater understanding of how the brain controls motion means solutions are possible.  

There is hope that one day the technology used in these mind-controlled robotic limbs could be combined with exoskeleton apparatus that enable paraplegics and quadriplegics to walk, much like the ReWalk robotic suit which has been in the news quite a bit this year.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Emerging Tech

Early-detection system for wildfires could save many states from big burns

When it comes to dealing with the growing problem of raging wildfires, a new wireless smart sensor system could help spot burgeoning blazes before they rage out of control. Here's how it works.

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Black Diamond and Petzl to Coast here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk to unveil tunnel elevators and autonomous pods on December 18

We'll soon learn if Elon Musk's high-speed tunnel plan is a serious effort at ending traffic jams or little more than a fancy theme park ride. A big unveiling event is coming on December 18, a week later than originally planned.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.