Designing an Artificial Hand with ‘Smart Metal Wires’

Photo Credit: Oliver Dietze

Photo Credit: Oliver Dietze

Engineers at Saarland University and the Center for Mechatronics and Automation Technology (ZeMA) have taken a leaf out of nature’s book by equipping an artificial hand with muscles made from shape-memory wire. The new technology enables the fabrication of flexible and lightweight robot hands for industrial applications and novel prosthetic devices. Read More →

Robotics & Mechanical Limbs

The BrainGate implantable microelectrode array

As people continue to struggle with problems involving organ donation, a few robotic engineers continue to push the boundaries between humanity and machinery. A recent report in Nature (cited below) showed that two patients were able to overcome some aspects of their paralysis by way of an implant. Reaching and grabbing motions were possible by way of a carefully designed robotic arm. One individual involved in the study was able to enjoy a drink by herself. She didn’t seem to require assistance outside of the prosthetic limb. Read More →

Cybernetics – Left Ventricular Assist Device

Left ventricular assist device technology isn’t necessarily new, but it is one of the biggest harbingers of cybernetic technology. People with weak hearts that are waiting for a donor can use these sorts of heart pumps to bridge patients over until they can receive a full transplant. However, such LVAD machines are usually located in hospitals and are quite large. Likewise, LVAD machines are sometimes used immediately after heart surgery. Read More →

Humanity 2.0 – Cybernetic Individuals Today

Future humans might very well be a certain variety of organic machine hybrid. But what about right now? Are we witnessing the emergence of cyborg life within our society today? Consider that artificial hearts and prosthetic limbs are probably the best-known types of machinery intended to be grafted onto or within human flesh. Such artificial designs are supposed to fulfill a medical need. They are used when human organs or tissue have failed or has been amputated. Is this not a form of cybernetic integration? One would not usually receive a prosthetic for any recreational reason today however, I can see a future where perhaps this may be commonplace (or even trendy) in instances where prosthetic devices or artificial organs might enhance human performance and/or prolong life. Given that we’re headed into the weekend, I thought this might be a good topic to wrap up the week.  Read More →