The U.S. military has been working on an ambitious prosthetics project to build a truly bionic arm for years now. The second prototype, controlled by thought and capable of providing sensory feedback, will be unveiled this week at the DarpaTech 2007 conference.
Jonathan Kuniholm’s right arm terminates in a carbon-fiber sleeve trailing cables connected to a PC. He has no right hand, unless you count the virtual one on a display in front of him. The CG hand, programmed to look like silvery stainless steel, moves through a sequence of motions: spherical grasp, cylindrical grasp, thumb to forefinger — all in response to signals from Kuniholm’s muscles picked up by electrodes in the sleeve.