The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is working on a government-run project to build mind-controlled limbs for amputees and the paralyzed, the Associated Press reports.
"Imagine all the joints that are in your hand. There's 20 motions around all those joints," says Pittsburgh neurobiologist Andrew Schwartz. "It's not just reaching out and crudely grasping something. We want them to be able to use the fingers we've worked so hard on."
The 30-year-old (quadriplegic Tim) Hemmes' task was a much simpler first step. He was testing whether a new type of chip, which for safety reasons the Food and Drug Administration let stay on this initial volunteer's brain for just a month, could allow for three-dimensional arm movement.
He surprised researchers the day before the electrodes were removed. The robotic arm whirred as Hemmes' mind pushed it forward to hesitantly tap palms with a scientist. Then his girlfriend beckoned. The room abruptly hushed. Hemmes painstakingly raised the black metal hand again and slowly rubbed its palm against hers a few times.
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