Think You Could Do More if You Just Had an Extra Hand? You’re Probably Right.

By Kristin Houser – Re-Blogged From Futurism

BEYOND HUMAN. Prosthetic limbs have come a long way in recent years. From primitive designs that were little more than useless placeholders for the real thing, we now have high-tech devices that wearers can control with their thoughts. These prostheses can help people with missing limbs feel “whole” again. But in a new study, researchers set out to see if such devices could make humans more than whole.

Specifically, a pair of researchers from the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute in Japan wanted to know if giving someone a supernumerary robotic limb (SRL), a mind-controlled robotic limb that worked alongside the person’s two biological ones, could give that person multitasking abilities beyond those of the average human.

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Researchers Develop Cheaper, Better Robotic Hand

By Associated Press – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Helth

Italian researchers on Thursday unveiled a new robotic hand they say allows users to grip objects more naturally and features a design that will lower the price significantly.

The Hennes robotic hand has a simpler mechanical design compared with other such myoelectric prosthetics, characterized by sensors that react to electrical signals from the brain to the muscles, said researcher Lorenzo De Michieli. He helped develop the hand in a lab backed by the Italian Institute of Technology and the INAIL state workers’ compensation prosthetic center.

Image: Researchers Develop Cheaper, Better Robotic Hand

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New Bionic Arm Blurs Line Between Self and Machine for Wearers

By Shelly Fan – Re-Blogged From Singularity Hub

At 29 years old, Canadian firefighter Rob Anderson lost his left arm and left leg to a harrowing helicopter crash into the side of a mountain. Although fitted with “top of the line” prosthetics for the last 10 years, he said, using them feels like “doing things with a long pair of pliers.”

Part of the problem is that he just doesn’t feel connected to his prosthetic hand. “There’s a disconnect between what you’re physically touching and what your body is doing,” he explained.

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Beyond Permissionless Innovation

By Veronique de Rugy – Re-Blogged From Reason.com

Exciting things happen outside the reach of regulators.

Paul McCarthy is the father of a boy born without fingers on one hand. A few years ago, McCarthy found that a $30,000 prosthesis—the only option then available—was not a perfect match for his 12-year-old son’s needs, so he went online to find a better, less pricey alternative. McCarthy’s search led to the assembly of an unlikely team: a South African woodworker, an American puppeteer, and another father in a similar situation. Thanks to the power of the Internet, the men were able to collaborate from thousands of miles apart to make an inexpensive but workable prosthetic appendage using 3D printers.

Such “permissionless” innovation, in which people with big ideas for how to make the world better act on them without first jumping through regulatory hoops, is remarkable. It’s also extremely fragile. The entire enterprise could crumble overnight with a stroke of a regulator’s pen, a change in an insurance company’s policy, or a lawsuit filed by entrenched manufacturing interests. It hasn’t so far in this case. But due to pressure from competitors that make traditional prosthetics, the company McCarthy and his partners created has already had to agree to define its product as a “training” prosthetic, thus opening the door to future regulatory limitations on its business model.

Consider how the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in the name of safety at any cost, quashed the genomics company 23andMe by ordering it to stop marketing its cheap, at-home genetic testing kits. According to the agency, 23andMe should have obtained permission from regulators before selling its product to American consumers who were interested in learning more about their own personal genetic information.