DARPA-developed next-generation bionic arm hits the market
The next generationin prosthetic arms will soon be helping amputees get a grip in the real world. The LUKE arm, which was previously known as the Deka Arm, was developed under DARPA's Revolutionizing Prosthetics program by DEKA Research & Development Corp. It received marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2014 and is now set to hit the market later this year.
As we've reported previously, the DEKA arm is the first prosthetic arm set approved for commercial markets that translates signals from a patient's muscles intocomplex motions. Rechristened the LUKE (Life Under Kinetic Evolution) arm by medical device maker MobiusBionics, which will bring it to market with Universal Instruments Corporationas contract manufacturer, the prosthetic will be the first in a new productcategory for integrated prosthetic arms.
The LUKE arm'scentral control technology, whereby electromyogram (EMG) electrodes are used to pickup electrical signals from the patient's muscles, has been around for decades.The key innovation is just how much movement, control and strength the newsystem is able to translate from those signals to the arm which boasts up to 10 powered degreesof freedom.
According to MobiusBionics, the LUKE arm will deliver a number of new capabilities to amputees,including a powered shoulder joint that can reach overhead or behind the back;an elbow strong enough to lift a bag of groceries from floor to tabletop; a wristwith enough range of motion and fine dexterity to hold a glass of wateroverhead or at waist level without spilling; and a complex hand with four motorsthat can hold heavy items and delicate ones like an egg without dropping or breaking either.
The system has asensor that also returns "grip-force" information back to thepatient, giving feedback about how firmly something is being grasped. Anothernew innovation is the use of foot-mounted inertial measurement sensorsconnected wirelessly to the arm that offer an alternative means of control.
The goal of anadvanced upper limb prosthetic with near natural control is something DARPAbegan working on a decade ago. The LUKE arm is the result of years of researchand development by DARPA, the U.S. Veterans Administration and privatecompanies, including over 10,000 hours of testing involving nearly 100amputees.
Mobius Bionics is now accepting names of people interested in owning one of the first LUKE arms.
The original DEKA arm is demonstrated in the video below.
Source: Mobius Bionics
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