Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Bionic Leg Undergoing Clinical Trials

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the we-have-the-technology dept.

Medicine 86

fangmcgee writes "A 'bionic' leg designed for people who have lost a lower leg is undergoing clinical trials sponsored by the US Army. The researchers hope the leg will be able to learn the patient's nerve signal patterns and be able to move in response to the patient's own muscles and nerves (abstract). Electrodes are attached to nine muscles in the thigh to detect the patterns in which the nerve signals are fired. Different patterns correspond to different intended movements. In the current stages of training, the volunteers are wired up to the electrodes and learn how to use the muscles to make a computer avatar move on screen. Results showed that all the volunteers could control the avatar’s knee and ankle movements from neural information from the thigh, with amputees achieving 91 percent accuracy of movement and the non-amputees achieving 89 percent."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Go cyborg, now. (3, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915676)

The interesting question is what we are going to do when such artificial limbs are actually better than the real deal. Voluntary amputation to get an upgrade? Interesting times....

Re:Go cyborg, now. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915738)

Even if the limbs are better, removing the natural limb will still have serious complications

Ertl reconstruction (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915764)

removing the natural limb will still have serious complications

There are ways to ease such complications, such as Ertl reconstruction [ertlreconstruction.com] of the affected leg.

Re:Ertl reconstruction (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916360)

But what if you remove too much bone marrow? I suppose, if you could keep enough bone marrow alive inside another implant in the gut or something...

Maintenance... Re:Ertl reconstruction (1)

Fubari (196373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35918674)

Interesting point on bone marrow.
That is what "maintenance" contracts are for...

Kusanagi: So what if we can't live without high-level maintenance?
We have nothing to complain about.
lt doesn't mean we've sold our souls to Section 9.
We do have the right to resign if we choose.
Provided we give the government back our cyborg shells and the memories they hold.

Stolen or broken (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915782)

Voluntary amputation to get an upgrade?

Until the artificial legs get stolen or broken and one has to walk around like [youtube.com] this [youtube.com] .

Re:Stolen or broken (2)

NoSig (1919688) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915854)

Biological legs get broken too, and I think I'd rather have an interchangeable leg with a pain cut-off (when they get mild pain and touch sensation working) get broken than have a biological one broken. I'll give you that biological legs rarely get stolen, though.

Re:Go cyborg, now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35915860)

Also, keep in mind that an "improved" limb is only as good as the method which it is attached to the body and the strength of the body itself. For instance, an arm capable of lifting 50 kg while securely attached to a stand may not be able to lift 50 kg when attached to a body.

Re:Go cyborg, now. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915954)

Also, keep in mind that an "improved" limb is only as good as the method which it is attached to the body and the strength of the body itself. For instance, an arm capable of lifting 50 kg while securely attached to a stand may not be able to lift 50 kg when attached to a body.

One word: Adamantium.

super soldiers that what the army wants! (0)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915866)

super soldiers that what the army wants!

Hell With Limbs (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916252)

I've been stuck in this slowly dying meat prison for over 40 years! The optics have always been shit (though the lasik upgrade a few years ago helped a little,) it requires constant refueling and maintenance and the parts replacement plan sucks! Plus it has to think with meat! MEAT! Do you know how hard it is to think with meat? Well OK you probably do, but have you ever really thought about how hard it is to think with meat? There is literally no place I wouldn't stop, if I could replace every piece of it.

Re:Hell With Limbs (2)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916352)

Bad news.... if you replace all the parts, you're dead. Sure, there may now be a robotic doppelganger out there, but it's not you. You don't get to share in its experiences simply because it looks and acts like you. Unless they come up with a way to perform soul transplants, you're screwed. And if there is no soul to transplant, then you're really screwed.

Re:Hell With Limbs (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916382)

But what if you replace the brain neuron by neuron, without a break in conciousness?

Re:Hell With Limbs (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916976)

in the midst of synapses firing? cause that's also part of "you".

Re:Hell With Limbs (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35918954)

So If you replace one neuron in the midst of synapses firing, you are no longer you?

How about 30,000,000 of them?

Each second?

For a year?

At which point are you not you?

Re:Hell With Limbs (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35985424)

You are not you at the point where there are 2 of you, I suppose. But it doesn't really matter. I was responding to a hypothetical. The guy mentioned simultaneously replacing all neurons. So my question was whether he realized that would mean capturing their state in the midst of firing.

Re:Hell With Limbs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920824)

You do realize that outright braincell death is a common occurance, right?

Re:Hell With Limbs (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916982)

But what if you replace the brain neuron by neuron, without a break in conciousness?

Exactly! Eat the nano-pill, and the nanobots cruise to your brain, and start replacing it in-place with a billion-times-faster device. As you look up at the ceiling fan, it will start slowing until it comes to almost a stop; you're thinking that much faster. The hitch is that communicating with those who have not taken the pill become excruciatingly slow, like one word every year, from your perception. "The digital divide" indeed!

Re:Hell With Limbs (2)

dissy (172727) | more than 2 years ago | (#35917600)

Eat the nano-pill, and the nanobots cruise to your brain, and start replacing it in-place with a billion-times-faster device. As you look up at the ceiling fan, it will start slowing until it comes to almost a stop; you're thinking that much faster. The hitch is that communicating with those who have not taken the pill become excruciatingly slow, like one word every year, from your perception. "The digital divide" indeed!

If the devices used to replace your neurons take full advantage of the nanotechnology they should have (and would need to be able to do such a thing in the first place), you should also be able to adjust your own clock speed so to speak, under full conscious control.

When talking to 'meat bags', you could slow your brain down to the standard human speed (or slightly higher) to communicate and be able to take part in real-world activities.

In fact while the majority of humans are still humans, you would want to run in that state as the default mode, only speeding things up when you needed to think at higher rates.
Only after most people are switched over, or for the times you are around people that are all upgraded, would everyone in the group think faster by default to stay at the same speeds.

It would be more like the fight scene in the recent Sherlock Holmes movie.
You raise your clock speed and think out your plan for 15 minutes of thought time, which only takes a second or so of real time, then when done thinking you slow back down some what to execute the plan physically.

And I for one can not wait for the singularity of nanotechnology!

Re:Hell With Limbs (1)

NSash (711724) | more than 3 years ago | (#35918288)

But what if you replace the brain neuron by neuron, without a break in conciousness?

That's begging the question. If you assume that there will be no break or reduction in consciousness as bits of your brain are replaced, then you never lose continuity. It's not obvious that this would be the case.

Re:Hell With Limbs (2)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916384)

As long as I feel continuity through the upgrade process, I don't give a rat's arse about philosophical problems or souls...

Re:Hell With Limbs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919302)

Ah, but you won't feel continuity. It's your robot copy who will feel the continuity. You will just feel being copied, and then you will have to die.

Re:Hell With Limbs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35916878)

To that Sir, I'd like to quote a couple of lines from a favorite comic of mine: Transmetropolitan, by Warren Ellis.

(Spider Jerusalem explaining about 'foglets' and downloading:)
"It really all got started with a guy called Hans Moravec. It's him who coined the word "downloading"."
"He was born Swiss but brought up in Canada, which probably explains why one day he woke up with the question:"
"Would intelligent robots be like people? Or would they be people?"
"Moravec was queer for robots in the worst way - not unlike your Ziang - which explains why he woke up with that question, rather than beating down his morning hard-on like the rest of us."
"Well, he got to thinking: if a guy has a prosthetic leg, is he still human?"
"Sure. It still does the same job, does what you tell it to. So how about it if he had two artificial legs? Artificial arms? A plastic heart? Carbon-fibre bones? Artificial neurons?"
"Where do you stop being human?"
"Moravec figured you just didn't, then made the next leap: you could put a human mind into an entirely artificial body - and that person would still be a person."
"You could download a mind from out of its - let's face it - eminently crappy, badly designed human body and into a seriously useful and functionally immortal artificial form."

Re:Hell With Limbs (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916936)

You replace it all the time... In fact most of you is dedicated to replacing parts of you that just wore out... just on a smaller level.

Re:Hell With Limbs (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 3 years ago | (#35919322)

Soul. Pah! Are you the same person you were 10 years ago? How about when you were 10? Any sense of continuity you have is an illusion generated by your brain. About the only thing that's remained the same has been your DNA.

Who does a robotic version of me have to convince it's me? Certainly not myself -- it could just as easily be programmed to believe it's me. If no one else can tell a difference in its personality, what's the difference really?

Re:Go cyborg, now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35916484)

I'm Biomedical Engineer and I grant you that the sensors and mechanical technology cannot suppress the real muscle tissue and human capacity. I dare to say more, any prosthetic thing is better than organic tissue, until today.

Re:Go cyborg, now. (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916622)

The interesting question is what we are going to do when such artificial limbs are actually better than the real deal. Voluntary amputation to get an upgrade? Interesting times....

What's going to power it?

Re:Go cyborg, now. (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#35917034)

Depends. You can power it biochemically, I guess. Until then - plain batteries? RTGs? Whatever wÃrks. Running out of juice on your cyborg limbs might suck, though.... I give you that.

Re:Go cyborg, now. (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916952)

Already a cyborg: I wear glasses.

Re:Go cyborg, now. (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#35917024)

So am I - but will we go further when the opportunity arises? I guess so.

Re:Go cyborg, now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919498)

I wish people would stop with the "human + glasses = cyborg" crap. Glasses are an external tool that you put on and take off, they're not a part of you. It makes just as much sense to claim that anyone wearing a helmet is a cyborg. Hell, just wearing clothing would make you a cyborg.

Re:Go cyborg, now. (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35922252)

Okay, then I wear contacts.

Re:Go cyborg, now. (1)

garompeta (1068578) | more than 3 years ago | (#35918660)

I don't know if it should be better and faster than a real leg, the last time I tried them, the leg just ran away from me.

Re:Go cyborg, now. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919546)

with my glasses I have better vision than at least 90% of the people. when I wake up in the morning, or go swimming without my glasses the only things I see comfortably sharp are those within 20-30cm (1ft) from my eyes.

Yes! (2)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915680)

We can rebuild him; faster, stronger... We have the technology!

Bionic 'Stache (1)

sanman2 (928866) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915780)

But who will supply patients with the requisite large moustache capability?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7w4yd3aPnC4 [youtube.com]

So I don't think we're fully there yet.

Re:Bionic 'Stache (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915944)

Wow, I was too young at the time to remember, but seeing it now I wonder if most adults at the time thought, "this show is mostly people running and jumping in slow motion with some mid-grade funk music."

I was also too young to ask, "Why did he kick this explosive behind the dam where it could impart more force to the water retention structure?" He should have kicked it *away* from the dam.

Re:Yes! (1)

DarkTempes (822722) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916316)

BIONIC...ARR^H^H^HLLLEEEEEEEEEGGGGGGG!!!!!!

Caps filter can die in a fire. I am yelling on purpose you big silly computer.

The "NA-NA-NA-Na-Na-Na-na-na-na-na" sound effect. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35916546)

Will we able to get that sound effect too? Without that effect the whole bionic thing is pretty boring, truthfully.

Gonna be a lot of really disappointed patients (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915686)

If it can't do the slow-mo superspeed with the funky "bionic" noise.

Re:Gonna be a lot of really disappointed patients (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915708)

That always bugged me about The Six Million Dollar Man. He was supposed to be able to run incredibly fast, but it always took him forever to get anywhere. It was maddening!

Re:Gonna be a lot of really disappointed patients (2)

grumling (94709) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915934)

The DVD collection has an interview with the director. His inspiration was NFL Films [nflfilms.com] , who shoot runningbacks in slow motion.

Re:Gonna be a lot of really disappointed patients (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916070)

Well that hardly seems sporting!

Re:Gonna be a lot of really disappointed patients (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916012)

He was supposed to be able to run incredibly fast, but it always took him forever to get anywhere. It was maddening!

It definately wierd that people thought that slow-motion video of a man running at normal speed looked faster then a person running at normal speed. You're sense of time must have alot of variability, based on weather you're expecting something to be true or not. It's a cheap special affect, anyway, so I guess the studio had nothing to loose.

Re:Gonna be a lot of really disappointed patients (1)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916106)

My guess is they saw the Benny Hill Show and decided against increasing the frame rate.

Re:Gonna be a lot of really disappointed patients (1)

sanman2 (928866) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915904)

Don't forget to throw in the requisite bongo drums to set the mood.

But more importantly - will it impress the chicks?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMhMscIxLt8 [youtube.com]

Brain plasticity (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915724)

They wire electrodes to somewhere unrelated, the brain learns to integrate it into it's body like nothing was the matter. This is so awesome. It would be even more awesome if they could wire stuff to the motor nerves and have the brain treat it as a new body part to control, rather than retraining old nerves, though.

Re:Brain plasticity (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915962)

They can, but brain surgery is much more risky than wiring some electrodes to some (now extraneous since the limb is gone) nerve endings. There was a story not long ago about wiring directly to speech center of the brain to give voices to mutes. For allowing the blind to see, the deaf to hear, or the mute to speak, brain surgery is both needed and (probably) worthwhile. There are less invasive ways to handle allowing bionic limbs.

Re:Brain plasticity (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916130)

Yeah, I know, what I meant was "tapping into" the nerves that run down the arms and legs or the facial area. It would be a lot more efficient than going for the spine or brain, obviously.

Re:Brain plasticity (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916290)

From the full article it looks like they're currently trying to see how far they can go without any surgery at all.

They aim to find out if they will need to have extra nerve endings implanted in a process known as “targeted muscle innervations” to control the robotic limb. The researchers have been surprised with the preliminary findings that show the patients are able to control the ankle joint, which they expected would require surgical implants.

If I'm reading that right, they *can* do what you're talking about, but they're starting to realize that they may not need to. While there might be some advantages to a permanently wired and attached prosthetic like Luke's hand or Steve Austin, there's also something to be said for a non-surgical solution that can be trivially switched out, changed, removed for maintenance, etc.

Re:Brain plasticity (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916408)

The way I read it, the'yre talking about adding extra nerves into a muscle group and then read the signals from that muscle group. I'm talking about running a "line" into the "trunk nerve", so you wouldn't need to give up a patch of muscle to control the implant. That'd be a big thing if you want to add stuff to people that aren't injured or is having stuff cut off and replaced.

Re:Brain plasticity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35916954)

This is why I always say that it is nonsense, to study which part is for what in the brain.
It's like studying, which part of a auto-adapting FPGA does what.

It's just "software". It can, and is supposed to, change.

Rappers Delight! (1)

wiresquire (457486) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915732)

I said a hip, a hop, the hippity-hop
To the hip hip hop, and you dont stop!

Re:Rappers Delight! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35915830)

I'll bet you own a pair of parachute pants, don't you?

I hope this works out (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915770)

And kudos to the Army for sponsoring this. It's the least they could do to support their sons and daughters who give life and, in many cases, limb for their country.

Re:I hope this works out (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915966)

And kudos to the Army for sponsoring this. It's the least they could do to support their sons and daughters who give life and, in many cases, limb for their country.

Actually, if you look at the history of medicine (especially emergency medicine) it owes a lot to the military. Many civilians are alive today because of the R&D investments made by military forces around the world.

Re:I hope this works out (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916494)

It owes a lot to the military in the sense that the military has a tendency to maim people in quite creative way. Then some doctor has to find a way to fix it again.

Re:I hope this works out (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 2 years ago | (#35917010)

And kudos to the Army for sponsoring this. It's the least they could do to support their sons and daughters who give life and, in many cases, limb for their country.

Actually, if you look at the history of medicine (especially emergency medicine) it owes a lot to the military. Many civilians are alive today because of the R&D investments made by military forces around the world.

I wonder, though, if we hadn't been spending so many of our resources on breaking windows in other countries, how much more science and medical technology we could have potentially developed by today.

Re:I hope this works out (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 2 years ago | (#35917580)

And kudos to the Army for sponsoring this. It's the least they could do to support their sons and daughters who give life and, in many cases, limb for their country.

Actually, if you look at the history of medicine (especially emergency medicine) it owes a lot to the military. Many civilians are alive today because of the R&D investments made by military forces around the world.

I wonder, though, if we hadn't been spending so many of our resources on breaking windows in other countries, how much more science and medical technology we could have potentially developed by today.

That's a common outlook, but it's frequently wrong. The reality is that the military in most developed countries can demand tremendous resources, and apply them to pure research efforts. Obviously, the intent is to increase military capability in most cases (and certainly being able to preserve the lives of trained soldiers is one of them) but the public often benefits from the knowledge gained. The kind of investment big governments can afford is rarely seen in the private sector (which doesn't look beyond the next stock report) and it applies to a broad spectrum of efforts in everything from electronics, medicine, near-space development, nuclear technology and many others. Fact is, there's nothing like a good high-tech war to advance science on multiple fronts very, very quickly. Yes, it's expensive, in terms of both money and lives, but there it is. World War II sent us decades ahead of where we would have been if we hadn't had to defeat enemies with at least as much on the ball as we had. Doesn't even have to be a shooting war either: the Cold War encouraged both sides to spend billions on R&D, and much of the technology you take for granted nowadays came directly from those conflicts.

Re:I hope this works out (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35922272)

I agree that we do not have the other world to compare it to, and that I am speculating.

Re:I hope this works out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35920410)

This is based on work done by a United States Military Academy student. Every year the Army sponsors the research of thousands of officer-bound West Point students alongside the Navy and Air Force academies. A broad spectrum of research is done by students of all majors.

Re:I hope this works out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35916302)

who give life and, in many cases, limb for Haliburton & co.

There. Fixed that for ya.

Oh, and this [zpub.com] .

SciFi turned real (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35915790)

It's finally happening. We've seen this in so many shows, but this time it's actually real.

But please go ahead and get your jokes and references in. I'll start: Ghost in the Shell, The Six Million Dollar Man, Fullmetal Alchemist

Re:SciFi turned real (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915978)

It's finally happening. We've seen this in so many shows, but this time it's actually real.

But please go ahead and get your jokes and references in. I'll start: Ghost in the Shell, The Six Million Dollar Man, Fullmetal Alchemist

Maybe. But they're gonna need a lot better batteries before this really gets popular. Steve Austin's limbs were nuclear-powered, remember ... he didn't have to worry about low-battery warnings. Fuel-cells maybe: if it runs out, just pop in another propane cylinder.

Re:SciFi turned real (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916110)

Fuel-cells maybe: if it runs out, just pop in another propane cylinder.

I make lots of methane, can we put that to use?

Re:SciFi turned real (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916082)

But please go ahead and get your jokes and references in. I'll start: Ghost in the Shell, The Six Million Dollar Man, Fullmetal Alchemist

Angelic Layer would be an excellent one to add.

Re:SciFi turned real (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916236)


Quake? [youtube.com]

Yay for Wii-motion-plus level accuracy (3, Interesting)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915824)

You would think they would be able to do better than 90%. With that accuracy you would fall down the stairs at least 1 out of every 10 times you go down them.

I recently dumped the C-Leg for a general mechanical leg because it drove me nuts how I had no say how the C-Leg tried to guess what I was doing... and if it didn't know, it would go into geriactric safety mode. I don't plan on using another knee that I have to recharge until this kind of tech actually comes to fruitation. I have a feeling it will be another 5 to 10 years.

Re:Yay for Wii-motion-plus level accuracy (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916018)

You would think they would be able to do better than 90%. With that accuracy you would fall down the stairs at least 1 out of every 10 times you go down them.

I recently dumped the C-Leg for a general mechanical leg because it drove me nuts how I had no say how the C-Leg tried to guess what I was doing... and if it didn't know, it would go into geriactric safety mode. I don't plan on using another knee that I have to recharge until this kind of tech actually comes to fruitation. I have a feeling it will be another 5 to 10 years.

I'd say you're right ... they're going to have to do better than that. Training and experience will help, as will improvements to the firmware that runs the things. There's going to have to be something fairly sophisticated in there, some kind of expert system that can make correct judgments about what the user is trying to do even in the face of occasional bad control input.

When you factor in the additional R&D required, plus the time it takes to get FDA approval for something like this, five or ten years is probably a good guess. I think it's going to happen though. Did you ever read Heinlein's Starship Troopers? Not the stupid movie they made from it. The powered prosthetics the teacher was wearing were an apt description of the end result of this research.

Re:Yay for Wii-motion-plus level accuracy (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916026)

I'd be curious about what level of refined movement they are working with, and how much difference practice makes. I have a non-zero error rate in making movements with my natural limbs, especially when I'm doing very refined work (I've made a typo already in this post and had to correct it), but even gross movement I occasionally over or underestimate a stair height, trip over nothing, whatever. Usually I can correct by using other muscles or something; very rarely, but occasionally, I fall down and make a fool of myself.

Most of us learn to avoid and/or correct for as many of those mistakes as possible in the school of hard knocks. We fall down, it hurts, we try not to do that anymore. As we get older we do it less and less, until by middle childhood it becomes an infrequent and embarrassing event instead of a regular part of life. Once these people have these devices attached for real, and are trying to actually walk with them, I bet they get better faster.

Re:Yay for Wii-motion-plus level accuracy (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916258)

You would think they would be able to do better than 90%. With that accuracy you would fall down the stairs at least 1 out of every 10 times you go down them.

It's much worse than that. It applies to every leg action.
And you do at least two leg actions for each step. But it's mitigated by not every misstep being fatal - some will just make you look funny. Say half are non-fatal (because that simplifies things). Given that you only need to fall once, the risk formula is 1-0.9^f, where f is number of steps

Plugging in a couple of common staircase lengths:

4 steps (like a porch): 34% risk of falling
13 steps (home story flight): 75% risk
20 steps (public building story): 98.5% risk

Add to that the risk of falling over while walking on flat ground, and the obligatory membership card to the ministry of funny walks, and I think this is nowhere near ready for use by the public.

The military (who paid for this) have other interests, of course. These limbs can be used remotely too. Have an armored robot with a grenade dispenser run down into a cave, controlled by an amputee sitting in a nearby op center. If it falls, send another one. And another one. It's only going to cost billions, and the tax payers are more than willing to pay that, if it makes them feel slightly more secure.

Re:Yay for Wii-motion-plus level accuracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919300)

The big deal that will make it reality is that it has military uses. This sort of interface is exactly what they use in those Gundam and similar series. Now, that's kind of lame and all, being typical anime, but imagine being able to take that robotic suit that the military is working on and having it work off of your own natural reflexes and inputs. Then arms. And so on - basically your own personal combat mech suit.

It's usually military uses that end up driving civilian technology, after all. Or at least paying for the development. And what soldier wouldn't want powered armor?

I wanna I wanna! (1)

h5inz (1284916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35915948)

Oh yes! Yes! How cool is that! Can you make an exception for people who still have 2 legs attached? No? It's completely ok, I understand that. I'l be right back in a moment..

Third Leg... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916034)

I've got a "bionic" THIRD leg, at least that's what the ladies say!

running fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35916060)

Remember folks, with just ONE bionic leg you can run in a straight line at 60 mph!

Really, I saw it in a documentary show I watched as a lad.

What problem does this address? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#35916086)

I don't know much about prosthetics and whatnot. But I've seen people running and playing sports (basketball, for one) with 'simple' artificial legs. By simple, I mean incorporating adjustable joint tensions, carbon fiber leaf springs, etc. But no electronics. Purely passive mechanical. I assume that these bionics address a group of patients not properly served by the aforementioned technology. And that the exposure to additional failure modes of the sensors, processors, actuators, etc. is worthwhile.

I hope they include a 'limp home' mode.

Re:What problem does this address? (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916220)

You can get around on a peg leg, doesn't mean it's the best or most efficient way to do it. The more closely they can mimic our natural capabilities the better for the amputees. Also this is technology that can be pushed farther as time goes on. We can recreate the lower-leg ankle assembly reasonably well with the technology you describe, but from what I understand this system can recreate the knee as well. That's allows people with much higher amputations to use the leg. Hand and arm amputation replacements are very primitive right now, the very best allow a simple "grip/don't grip" binary control, and most not even that. How far is it from this to a hand that can handle much more fine grained dexterity? Even what we would consider very gross movement controls for our natural hands would be a huge improvement for an amputee.

Re:What problem does this address? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#35917264)

Bionic hand I can understand. Maybe they just did the leg as a simpler problem to get started.

The advantage of the bionic hand over the leg is that: upon failure of a hand, most people can get around OK (at least handle most critical tasks) with the other one. Only one good leg leaves you much less mobile.

Re:What problem does this address? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919098)

Of course, if you're missing a leg, a bionic hand won't do you a whole lot of good regardless of if it is working or not.

And once again (1)

Anon8---) (1981904) | more than 2 years ago | (#35916150)

science actually helps while theists claim it was prayer that helped people.

I'm Jake the Peg, you insensitive clod!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35916636)

A 'bionic' leg designed for people who have lost a lower leg

No shit, Sherlock. In other news, dentures are for people whose teeth have fallen out.

Price? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35917022)

I know half a bionic body was six million dollars (in 1973 dollars), wonder how much a single leg goes for. I hope they fixed their weird electronic sound when you use your bionic limbs...

lower leg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35917682)

meanwhile the needs of those who have lost upper legs go completely unnoticed...

Obscure reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35919878)

Would you rather have a bionic leg or bionic arm?

I think they're going at it backwards (1)

aklinux (1318095) | more than 3 years ago | (#35926266)

We've seen time & time again, give the brain some input and it will sort out what it means and how to use it. Just look at that relatively recent post here on Slashdot about "seeing" with the tongue.

Hook to actuators to one group of nerve endings and the feedbacks to some different nerve ends and five'll get you ten, the brain will sort it out.

The next step ! (1)

wopleg (2075054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35940636)

It's great to see movement forward. I've been short a lower leg since i was 5 and its amazing the variations in that time. I've walked on wooden legs with bits of tyre to space it, had wooden feet, latex feet and now composite carbon laminates. I've had sockets with leather straps to keep the leg on, had winged sockets and rubber sleeves but now use a negative pressure socket to maintain volume and improved tactile response. If i left up to the Australian govt cover me with the best tech I'd be using a peg ! And I know guy who loves that ! Yes I could just still be walking around on a resin based leg with a 70's style socket connection and a primitive latex covered foot. But lets face it I move forward cause I don't want to be limited... I wont be stopping for anyone nor will I let the tech limitations slow me as I age. Hell someone get me in that clinical trial. ! Do they need super high athletic types with specialist training. I'm a 3rd dan in Taekwondo and teach fit university students with two legs half my age who cant keep up... I'll show you what it is to be a machine man...not called uncle cyborg for nothing ! But I'm looking forward to seeing what develops out of the trial and how far it reaches,... lets just hope the price doesn't fall too far from the reach of those who would get the most from it, maybe we should be looking at how to get it to them more than wondering if people will cut on off just to get the upgrade.
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?