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New Advancement for Prosthetic Devices & Robotics

New Advancement for Prosthetic Devices & Robotics
June 06
13:44 2018

watch I just shared a report about a huge advancement in robotics where Japanese researchers used live muscle tissue to help move robotic fingers. The living muscle tissue gave the robotic fingers more lifelike movement. However, there was a drawback to the new technology and that was the live muscle tissue had to be kept alive and this only worked under water. The new technology was still considered to a huge breakthrough or advancement in the field of robotics.

This may be good for robotics but what about people?

Over the past couple of decades, America has seen far too many brave men and women pay a heavy price in serving our country in the military. The enemy invention of the IED (improvised explosive device). They have lost legs and arms, among other serious injuries. Losing a limb generally results in the end of their military career.

They left the country whole and came home no longer whole. One of the unfortunate circumstances of our men and women fighting in the Middle East is that the prosthetic industry has been booming. Hundreds of wounded servicemen and women have found themselves with prosthetic legs and/or arms.

It’s not just our military who have been losing arms and legs, but many other people also lose a limb due to accidents or a variety of health reasons. I had a friend who after several knee replacements, ended up having to have his leg amputated. He was fitted with a prosthetic leg, which allowed him to resume playing basketball, riding his bike and many other activities, but he said that he still faced some limitations. At times, it was difficult to control his prosthetic leg and he complained that he missed not have the any feelings in the artificial limb.

With many advances in the technology surrounding artificial limbs, most of our military personnel as once again able to move about and function, but there are still limitations.

A new development from a joint project between Stanford University and Seoul National University may have just developed an answer to address some of the limitations we have heard about from people with prosthetics.

They claim to have developed an artificial sensory nerve system that can be used with prosthetics and robotics. The artificial sensory never system works so well that it allows a person using prosthetic arms and hands to identify Braille letters, which are no more than tiny bumps on paper.

Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering and one of the senior authors, is working towards developing an artificial system that mimics how skin stretches, repairs itself and feels. His first step toward that goal is the development of the new artificial nerve system.

How does it work?

“The first is a touch sensor that can detect even minuscule forces. This sensor sends signals through the second component – a flexible electronic neuron. The touch sensor and electronic neuron are improved versions of inventions previously reported by the Bao lab.”

“Sensory signals from these components stimulate the third component, an artificial synaptic transistor modeled after human synapses. The synaptic transistor is the brainchild of Tae-Woo Lee of Seoul National University, who spent his sabbatical year in Bao’s Stanford lab to initiate the collaborative work.”

Lee commented:

“Biological synapses can relay signals, and also store information to make simple decisions. The synaptic transistor performs these functions in the artificial nerve circuit.”

Both researchers say they still have a lot of work ahead, but as they develop their new sensory system, it provides hope for the thousands with prosthetic limbs. Imagine being able to actually feel what you are touching with your prosthetic limb, something that most of us take for granted.

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