Bionic prostheses have made enormous strides in recent years — and the concept of a mind-controlled robot limb is now very much a reality. In one example, engineers at Johns Hopkins built a successful prototype of such a robot arm that allows users to wiggle each prosthetic finger independently, using nothing but the power of the mind.
Perhaps even more impressively, earlier this year a team of researchers from Italy, Switzerland, and Germany developed a robot prosthesis which can actually feed sensory information back to a user’s brain — essentially restoring the person’s sense of touch in the process.
“We ‘translate’ information recorded by the artificial sensors in the [prosthesis’] hand into stimuli delivered to the nerves,” Silvestro Micera, a professor of Translational Neuroengineering at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne School of Engineering, told Digital Trends. “The information is then understood by the brain, which makes the patient feeling pressure at different fingers.”