Paralyzed man becomes first person to “feel” sensations through a prosthetic hand connected to his brain

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Hardly the first. Dennis Sørensen of Denmark did it a year and a half ago.

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Such people will be one of the first to benefit from haptic feedback in virtual reality.

Also could have major uses in haptic-feedbacked telepresence, e.g. for remote operation of robots.

We may be heading into times where certain kinds of disability, via the prosthetics used, could become special qualifications for certain kinds of jobs.

Pffft. Skype enabled telepresence dildos are what’s next.

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Incredible stuff. I notice no mention of detecting temperature or viscosity of a given touched substance, but this is still a massive step forward in prosthetics.

Mind you, I think I’ve mentioned this sort of thing in comments for related stories before, but the real test for any given prosthetic is its everyday practicality and durability.
While my Dad’s artificial leg isn’t much more than a well-balanced tool, it has no delicate electronic components and therefore isn’t likely to malfunction on him when he needs it most. He doesn’t need to charge it up in order to use it, and when it does need repairing, it can usually be done so with screwdrivers, spanners and hammers to some extent.

The real skill in making these things is what is called “limb fitting”. Dad regularly sees a qualified limb fitter who measures him up for new legs when his old one (inevitably) wears out. My Dad’s VERY active.

The things that really affect his quality of life are things like how well the suction cup is moulded to his stump, whether the leg is the same length as his other one and whether it swings in a natural enough movement to allow Dad to move around unimpeded. A badly moulded suction cup in particular can result in nasty things such as ingrowing hairs and the associated cysts. And going back before they used plastics to make the cups, a regular complaint (and not a nice one to have), used to be aluminium splinters.

My initial thought on reading any of these articles is to immediately forward it on to Dad, but I also know what his response will be: “Nice idea! How quickly will it break?”
I’ll still forward this on, but Dad’s been an amputee for over fifty years now, so practicality and comfort are more important to him than high-tech sense reproduction.


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