Wounded veterans with artificial limbs could soon see some exciting new technological advances coming thanks to DARPA. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a goal to provide injured veterans and wounded service members the most naturally functioning artificial limbs possible. To reach that goal, DARPA is focusing on its HAPTIX (Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces) project.
What is the HAPTIX program? The program will consist of eight teams who have one goal - to develop the next-generation, state of the art upper-limb prostheses. In plain speak, what this means is that the teams will be looking to create artificial limbs which function like natural ones.
HAPTIX is first focusing its energy on creating artificial hands. These hands will move intuitively and function just like a natural hand, complete with the dexterity and sense of touch. In other words, a wounded veteran could think of using his/her had to perform a function (grab a doorknob, point to an object, etc.) and the thought would trigger the function.
Integrating thought and movement when it comes to artificial limbs is not new technology. DARPA has been developing RE-NET (Reliable Neural-Interface Technology) which is based on creating a direct link between a person’s thoughts and intent and control over a prosthetic device. Now, they want the HAPTIX project to take RE-NET a step further and also allow for the wearer of the artificial limb to have sensory feedback from that prosthetic.
Sensory feedback goes beyond the sense of touch - or being touched. This revolutionary step in artificial limb technology will also allow users to have awareness of limb position and movement when their eyes are closed or in the dark.
“The ultimate goal for HAPTIX is to create a device that is safe, effective and reliable enough for use in everyday activities,” said Doug Weber, DARPA program manager. Also, with this next generation technology, those who wish to return to active duty can do so.Other Articles
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