December 24, 2016

Bionic eyes and Arms

1. The NHS will pay for 10 people with an inherited form of blindness to be fitted with “bionic eye” implants.

Five patients with a condition known as retinitis pigmentosa will be treated at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and five at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London next year.

They will be given a pair of glasses mounted with a camera that captures light and sends wireless signals to an implant in the retina.

The implant will then relay information to the brain to help patients regain some sight.



2. DARP delivered the first two advanced “LUKE” arms from a new production line—shiny evidence that the fast-track DARPA research effort has completed its transition into a commercial enterprise. As part of that transition process, DARPA is collaborating with WRNMMC to make the advanced prostheses available to Service members and veterans who are rehabilitating after suffering upper-limb loss. The LUKE Arm ("Life Under Kinetic Evolution") is the first commercially available FDA-approved robotic prosthetic arm. It is manufactured by Mobius Bionics LLC of Manchester, N.H.

“The commercial production and availability of these remarkable arms for patients marks a major milestone in the [DARPA] Revolutionizing Prosthetics program and most importantly an opportunity for our wounded warriors to enjoy a major enhancement in their quality of life,” Sanchez said, “and we are not stopping here.”

The RP program is supporting initial production of the bionic arms and is making progress restoring upper-arm control, he added.

“Ultimately we envision these limbs providing even greater dexterity and highly refined sensory experiences by connecting them directly to users’ peripheral and central nervous systems,” Sanchez said.


The first production versions of “LUKE” arms, a groundbreaking upper-limb prostheses, were on display during a ceremony at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Dec. 22, 2016 The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is collaborating with Walter Reed to make the bionic arms available to service members and veterans who are rehabilitating after suffering upper-limb loss. DoD photo

As part of the production transition process, DARPA is collaborating with Walter Reed to make the bionic arms available to service members and veterans who are rehabilitating after suffering upper-limb loss, DARPA says.




The prosthetic system allows very dexterous arm and hand movement with grip force feedback through a simple intuitive control system, DARPA says.

The modular battery-powered limb is near-natural size and weight. Its hand has six user-chosen grips and an arm that allows for simultaneous control of multiple joints using inputs that include wireless signals generated by innovative sensors worn on a user’s feet.

The technology that powers prosthetic legs has advanced steadily over the past two decades but prosthetic arms and hands are a tougher challenge, in part because of the need for greater degrees of dexterity, DARPA says.



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