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---- PROTOTYPE --------- PURPOSE: To create a prototype of a prosthetic arm that is controlled by the user’s brain signals, and powered by compressed air for individuals who have had an arm amputated or who are otherwise missing an arm. Undergraduate biomedical engineering students; Thiago Caires and Michal Prywata, from Toronto’s Ryerson University have created the Artificial Muscle-Operated (AMO) Arm. The AMO arm offers a greater range of movement than traditional prostheses, doesn’t require the amputee to undergo invasive surgery, is easy to learn, and is relatively inexpensive to make. While it took Caires and Prywata over a year to create the custom software, the prototype itself was assembled in just 72 hours. The user wears a headset, which detects brain signals. Those electrical signals are sent wirelessly to a microprocessor in the AMO arm that compares them to an onboard database of established command signals. If there's a match, it actuates the AMO accordingly. For example, if the user thinks of "up" the arm moves up. While some traditional prosthetic arms move via myoelectric motors and relays, the AMO is pneumatic, using compressed air to simulate the expansion and contraction of muscles. That air comes from a refillable tank located in the user's pocket; however, the tank may move into the arm, itself, in future versions. The relatively simple technology keeps the production costs of the arm down to about a quarter of those for other functional prosthetic arms. Additionally, while some prostheses may also require the user to undergo muscle re-innervation surgery in which nerves that formerly controlled the amputated arm are rerouted into a muscle adjacent to the amputation point (such as in the shoulder), the AMO Arm simply straps on, and can reportedly be mastered in a relatively short amount of time with training. Caires and Prywata are now working on getting the fingers of the arm's hand to move independently – along with giving those fingers a sense of capacitive touch – and on developing an adaptive system that will allow the AMO Arm to "learn" from the habits of its user. They anticipate that it could be used not just as a prosthesis but also as a reach-extending wheelchair attachment. The duo have formed their own company, Bionik Laboratories Inc., in order to commercialize the AMO. They are also working on artificial lungs, and a non-invasive system for bypassing spinal cord injuries. AUTHOR: Ben Coxworth. TITLE: Pneumatic thought-controlled prosthetic arm created by students. WEBSITE: Gizmag. REF: http://www.gizmag.com/pneumatic-thought-controlled-prosthetic-arm/18289.
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