Kevin Warwick wants to be a Cyborg

Remember at the end of The Empire Strikes Back where Luke gets his hand chopped off by Vader? During one of the closing scenes, a robot doctor finishes up installing a replacement hand for Luke.

Luke Skywalker's Cyborg Hand

Luke Skywalker's Cyborg Hand

Kevin Warwick did something similar as an experiment, but without the whole getting his hand chopped off step. Instead he put an electrode in his hand that could transmit commands to a robotic hand through radio waves. This was done back in 2002, and somehow I never heard of it. I’m sure Ray Kurzweil would be proud. Check out the video below for more information about how he did this, and some other advances like using rat brain cells to power robots. If you are at all interested in robotics, cyborgs, or AI, you’ll be in for a treat.

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I noticed today on my RSS feed for TheForce.net there was a news blurb about Luke’s prosthetic hand from Star Wars might soon become a reality. I tried clicking on the full article located at MSN but for some reason it didn’t come up for me. After a google search I found an article located on the IEEE Spectrum site that had more information. The prosthetic arm was nicknamed “Luke Arm” by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway. An interesting video found via Engadget shows the arm in use and explains the modular approach used in manufacturing. It looks like the project’s fate lies in the hands of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) which has funded the first two phases. If clinical trials are approved, it is possible that veterans could have access to these as early as next year.

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Luke Skywalker's Cyborg Hand

Luke Skywalker's Cyborg Hand

OK, maybe Luke wouldn’t envy this hand, but it looks like we are much closer to the technology in The Empire Strikes Back when he gets his hand lopped off by his father. Matthew James is a boy born with a defect that stopped the growth of his arm at the wrist. He just got a brand new hand with the help of the Mercedes F1 Team. Matthew actually wrote Mercedes, the car maker, to ask for help getting an i-Limb Pulse prosthesis in return for displaying their logo on it.

After receiving the letter in June, Mercedes invited Matthew to their headquarters, where he toured the factory and met racing legend Michael Schumacher.

The company [Mercedes] said they were unable to pay for the hand but agreed to help Matthew raise the money, by asking fans and sponsors to make donations.

Mercedes couldn’t pay for the hand? That seems hard to believe. Anyway, it’s a good read so check it out. There was a follow-up video that I’m embedding below.

Via The Telegraph

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