Brain-computer interface: debilitated man uses thought to move robotic arm

Images
Video
  • The prosthetic arm, designed by the John Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL) and funded by the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Photo credit: DARPA and JHU/APL
  • Study participant Tim Hemmes (right) reaching out to his girlfriend, Katie Schaffer (left), using a brain-controlled prosthetic arm. Also pictured: Research team member Jennifer L Collinger, Ph.D. Photo credit: UPMC
  • Study participant Tim Hemmes (right) reaching out to his researcher, Wei Wang, M.D., Ph.D. (left), using a brain-controlled prosthetic arm. Also pictured: Research team member Jennifer L Collinger, Ph.D and Katie Schaffer. Photo credit: UPMC
  • As part of testing, Mr. Hemmes willed the arm to reach for a ball placed onto specific areas of a board in front of him. Photo credit: UPMC
  • In addition to the arm testing, Mr. Hemmes used his thoughts to guide a ball from the middle of a large television screen either up, down, left or right to a target, within a time limit. Photo credit: UPMC
Date:16 November 2012 Tags:, ,

Seven years after Tim Hemmes was involved in a motorcycle accident that left him unable to move his limbs, he was invited to participate in a University of Pittsburgh research project aimed at decoding the link between thought and movement. Hemmes enthusiastically agreed and last year made history by operating a robotic arm only with his thoughts.

This video shows Hemmes reach up to touch hands with his girlfriend in a painstaking and tender high-five and explains more about this revolutionary technology.

The Brain-computer interface was recognised in the Popular Mechanics 2012 Breakthrough Awards – an annual competition where we salute the greatest innovations. Get your hands on PM’s Dec ’12 issue – on sale on 19 November – to find out about the best bold ideas of 2012.