As part of DARPA’s Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program, DEKA Research had created The Luke Arm, a hi-tech prosthetic limb with almost natural control mechanisms, that translate signals from a person’s muscles to the bionic arm. But unlike This innovative mind-controlled prosthetic arm, the DEKA “Luke” does not have an electrode neural control system, that is connected directly to nerves. The main signals come from electromyogram (EMG) electrodes, which record electrical activity produced by muscles. A built-in computer analyzes the EMG signals, interprets them and sends a control signal for prosthetic device to make up to 10 specific powered movements.
Star Wars-style robotic arm by DARPA
It took eight years to develop and test the DARPA’s revolutionary new technology. An additional arm testing started three years ago at Biodesigns office in Southern California. Tests have shown, that the new type of a prosthetic limb will significantly improve the quality of amputees life. And person fitted with the DEKA Luke arm feels entirely new level of freedom and is able to pick up tiny objects like grapes or coin, use keys, open envelopes, pick up an egg, eat cereal or soup.
In 2014 this advanced prosthetic arm was approved by the FDA for mass production. The DEKA “Luke” Arm is the first prosthetic arm approved by the agency. It can be individually configured for each patient and different levels of arm amputation.
Here is one participant experience: