The brilliant minds at the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are working on what they claim is the world’s most futuristic prosthetics. Inspired from Star Wars, the LUKE is an innovative bionic arm that can actually be controlled by the user’s mind. Designed by Dean Kamen, the inventor of Segway, the contraption is the result of ten long years of research, and will be available commercially as early as late 2016.
According to the developers, the prosthetic limb is named after the fictional character Luke Skywalker, who sports an artificial hand in much of the acclaimed space opera series. To receive electrical signals from the wearer’s muscles, the LUKE takes the help of a set of electrodes attached to the person’s residual arm. Unlike conventional prosthetics, which are managed either manually by the user or via inconvenient switches and buttons, the new contraption operates much more intuitively, relying on an advanced control system for its functions.
What’s more, the newly-developed prosthetics comes equipped with an additional control system that uses high-tech wireless sensors present inside the wearer’s shoes. Compared to regular varieties, the LUKE bionic arm boasts an amazingly flexible design that is in turn capable of a wide range of movements. Each of its different parts, including the wrist, the shoulder and the elbow, is separately powered to ensure the user’s comfort and mobility.
The device features a total of four autonomous motors that, according to the designers, allow the wearer to grasp delicate objects, such as a small egg as well as a glass of water. Furthermore, an array of highly-specialized force sensors enable the user to determine the force with which he/she grips a particular object.
The team is currently gearing up to launch the contraption commercially towards the end of 2016. While the exact price of the LUKE prosthetic hand has not yet been officially revealed, the spokesperson of a medical supply company Qmed was reported stating:
… one prosthetic maker estimated the Luke’s price tag could be well north of $100,000.