Although this prosthesis is not brainwave-controlled – the patient moves it using his or her feet – but the system proudly holds the title of ‘most advanced robotic arm’. The system is made by DEKA, the same company that provided the robotic arm to the BrainGate research that we reported last month, when a paralyzed woman grabbed a cup of coffee with a thought-controlled robotic arm.
This DEKA arm is a prototype that features inertial measurement units worn on the top of the foot that “detect the position and the velocity” of foot movements. Each directionality or movement has a meaning assigned to it. If a user moves forward, the arm might be directed to perform a certain movement. If a user lifts his foot, the arm would move in another way.
So far, this prototype has been tested on 32 amputees in a controlled environment. The next phase of the project is to send people home with the arms after they have been trained to use them to see how they perform.
In 2008, DARPA provided DEKA with funding to design and develop an initial prototype of the arm through its Revolutionizing Prosthetics program.
Watch the video below to see the DEKA system in work: