When Kamen, one of America's best-known inventors, first spoke with officers at the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, they told him they were looking for a research and development group that could build a prototype of a new prosthetic arm. Kamen was expecting to hear a list of technical specifications, such as how much the arm would need to lift and how many moving joints it would require. Instead, Kamen says, the Pentagon officials told him they wanted to create an arm that could "pick up a raisin or a grape from a table, know the difference without looking at it, and be able to manipulate it into the person's mouth without breaking it or dropping it."Read the entire article and be sure to check out the video.
"Wow," Kamen thought, "that is pretty much beyond the capability of current engineering."
Several hundred US soldiers have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan missing an arm, and several dozen have lost both arms, according to Kamen. The numbers are tragic - yet too small to motivate some of the largest makers of medical devices. But Kamen says, "You don't say no to DARPA, and you don't say no to a challenge that can be that much of a life-changer for people who need it."
October 18, 2007
Kamen's next-gen prosthetic arm
Scott Kirsner has penned an article for The Boston Globe about the latest work being done by DARPA's Dean Kamen to develop the next generation of prosthetic limbs. Excerpt: