Recent years have seen a significant advancement in prosthetics. Many people, including Elon Musk, have even speculated that humans might soon be "cyborgs" due to the technology's potential. That future is right now for Port Richey, Florida resident Johnny Matheny. Matheny, who suffered a cancer-related limb loss in 2005, recently made history by becoming the first person to carry a cutting-edge mind-controlled robotic arm. He got the arm in December, and he'll be using it for the next 12 months.
The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab created the arm as part of their Revolutionizing Prosthetics program. The program's goal is to develop prosthetics that are controlled by neural activity in the brain to restore motor function to the point that it feels completely normal. It is financed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The initiative focuses especially on developing upper-arm amputee patients' prosthesis. Matheny will be the first person to truly live with the prosthesis, despite the fact that this particular arm has before been demonstrated. However, the team does hope that additional patients would test the technology over an extended period of time.
The prosthetic is amazing, but it is hardly an unstoppable, all-powerful robot arm. The arm cannot get wet, and Matheney is not permitted to operate a motor vehicle while wearing it. Matheney will be free to push the technology to the limits of its capabilities and thoroughly explore what it is capable of doing by keeping a few guidelines in mind.
The term "cyborg" can conjure up thoughts of cartoon villains, but for many patients, the incorporation of cutting-edge robotics into medical prosthetics has been largely positive, even life-changing. The devices have occasionally been able to help people regain their motor and sensory abilities. Robotic prosthetics that can be "mind-controlled" will enable patients who have had limbs amputated, had severe traumas, or were born without limbs to move their prosthetics fully and freely. The fact that they will be able to do this in a way that feels "natural" is what's most astounding.
The two main goals of the current prosthetic "test" are to evaluate Matheny's brain control of the arm and its technological capabilities. It would revolutionize prosthetics if these robotic limbs could be created and utilized with complete brain control. Artificial limbs might then take on a much more organic form, according to each patient's unique actions, goals, and physiology.
What may successful testing signify for the prosthetics industry going forward? or in anticipation of cyborgs? Aside from helping patients with prosthetic limbs in a variety of ways, the technology may also be valuable in unexpected contexts, such as a trip to Mars. Elon Musk has stated that we will probably need to merge with robots if we want to keep up with technology, explore the outer reaches of the solar system, and go beyond what is currently known to be possible. Humans are subject to certain, rigorous biological restrictions. Future humans could expand those boundaries if we were supported or enhanced by mind-controlled mechanical attachments.