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Russian Researchers Developing Thought-controlled Arm

Researchers train the software that powers their prosthetic arm prototype to pick up the myoelectric signals sent from the brain to the muscle to perform motions. Photograph courtesy of Tomsk Polytechnic University.

Researchers from Tomsk Polytechnic University, Russia, are developing a robotic arm prototype along with an algorithm to allow the user to control the prosthesis using his or her thoughts. Sensors on the prosthesis will pick up myoelectric signals from the residual limb. The system will analyze those signals and “guess” what movement the prosthesis should do.

“Initially, the program will be universal, but we will adapt it to each specific arm,” said researcher Mikhail Grigoriev, a fellow at the Laboratory of Medical Instrument-Making, the Institute of Non-Destructive Testing.

The researchers are collecting and recording the myoelectric signals able-bodied subjects use to move their limbs, and are “teaching” the algorithm what those signals mean. They plan to present their prototype and software within two years.

Editor’s note: This story was adapted from materials provided by Tomsk Polytechnic University.