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Man With No Limbs Controls Robotic Hand ­sing Muscle Whispers

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Alex Lewis, who lost his limbs two years ago, tries out a new prosthesis.

Researchers at Imperial College London have made a prosthesis that is controlled by the sounds muscle fibers make as they move against each other.

Credit: Dave Stock/New Scientist

Sam Wilson, a Ph.D. student at Imperial College London, and supervisor Ravi Vaidyanathan are designing new ways for the human body to control prostheses. The team is working to combine inputs from a microphone and an accelerometer in one device to make it easier for people to control prosthetic hands.

The researchers say listening to the sounds muscle fibers make as they move against each other makes it easier to get signals out of the body. Their research could make advanced bionic hands, which currently cost about $45,000, more accessible.

Wilson and Vaidyanathan are working on a sensor package that costs less than $150. They are working to develop the technology with Alex Lewis, who lost all of his limbs two years ago when a streptococcus infection developed into toxic shock, septicaemia, and necrotising fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating bacteria.

The team has already made the hand a bit simpler for Lewis to use by rigging the sensors to enable him to switch grips with an exaggerated upward movement of his arm.

From New Scientist
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