Neurological sciences are continuing to make headway when it comes to neural implants, bionics and prostheses. One of the latest advancements in the field has allowed a certain 24-year-old quadriplegic named Ian Burkhart to regain the use of his limbs – including precision digit usage – with the help of a neural implant.
The Associated Press recently reported that Burkhart has been visiting the laboratories at Ohio State University to undergo experimentation with a neural implant that works with electrodes attached to his arm that receives instructions through a computer interpreter.
They mention that Burkhart has to concentrate on what he’s going to do in order to accomplish anything, and Burkhart himself mentions that…
“I kind of have to think about it a little bit beforehand, and really think through what I’m trying to accomplish.”
Still, Burkhart’s reactions are interpreted within a fraction of a second, which was demonstrated with Guitar Hero. It’s very similar to the way the Myo Gesture armbands work with prosthetic limbs.
They’re still a ways away from full limb restoration through neural implants with 1:1 reaction times that most people have. Even still, it’s a sign of progressive developments in field, as scientists make headway for disabled gamers looking to get back into the game.
The research breakthroughs being conducted today in labs across the nation – or even the world – will help contribute toward an estimated $3.6 billion dollar robotic prosthetic market by 2025, according to a report from Lux Research.
Business Standard quoted Maryanna Saenko, Lux Research analyst and lead author of the report, who stated that…
“Robotics is rapidly entering the future of healthcare as a tool that will enable more advanced and personalised care for millions of patients. As longevity increases, more people are demanding better rehabilitative care. The rapid rise in patient numbers degrades medical providers’ ability and further stresses the need for more robotic technologies to assist in treatment,”
They expect Europe, America and China to lead the way in robotic treatments and therapy, as well as specialized prostheses.
Despite the expected forecasts, not every country has the foresight to embrace the future. Italy is suffering from some massive cutbacks in financing their robotics and advanced cellular research. However, that hasn’t stopped some brilliant minds from out of Pisa to create functioning bionics that allows the brain to interpret tactile responses from robotic touch.
Working with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Dr. Calogero Oddo, an assistant professor of biorobotics, mentioned to Fox News that…
“We are reconnecting something that is not connected to the brain,” […] “Without our touch, we cannot manipulate finely, but also you perceive the robotic hand as not part of your body. Instead, if you have a sense of touch, you perceive better and accept better the device that helps you.”
Already, prosthetic attachments have cheapened greatly thanks to the advent of 3D printing, so the only costly step in the process is the neural implementation that allows wearers to act, react and feel sensations based on haptic feedback and neural signals.
According to 3DPrint.com, Open Bionics already has limb replacement devices for as cheap as $1,000. As you can see, they’re not just there for decoration… the wearer can make gestures, move the fingers and even perform handshakes. Check it out in the video below from this year’s CES event in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Open Bionics also sports some really nifty looking specialized, 3D printed prosthetic limbs with minimal motion support. You can check out more of their tech over on the official website.
It appears as if robotic prostheses is advancing at a rapid rate, even just within the few months that we’ve been reporting about it here at this site. It won’t be long before disabled gamers will be rocking prosthetic limbs with the kind of reaction times and precision movement that you might find from a professional e-sports player.