At Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada researchers are working on improving the movement of an already highly advanced robotic prosthetic arm. The bebionic arm from RSLSteeper, a UK firm, has five independent fingers, but the interface and how its controlled is what the researchers are trying to improve so that movement is more natural, responsive, and feels a bit more like a real arm.
The M.A.S.S. Impact (Muscle Activity Sensor Strip) team at SFU has developed a stick-on electrode device that measures the electrical activity within the remaining muscles around the stump. These are recorded by the electrode array and converted by novel software developed at the SFU lab, which uses techniques that improve its performance as the arm is used more and more.
The technology originally came from attempts to rehabilitate stroke patients, but found use in prosthetic research.
The team will be participating in the Cybathlon this coming October where athletes using advanced prostheses will compete in a variety of tasks.
Here’s an SFU report about the new upper prosthetic control technology: