New Prosthetic Arms Are Awesome, Need More Steampunk

Geek Culture

I had to bring this one up just because of the conversations we’ve been having on The GeekDads about prosthetics and the opportunity for cool modifications.  Dean Kamen of Segway fame has turned his focus on artificial arms, where the state of the art is currently far behind that for legs.  The first cool thing is that he’s named his project the Luke arms, after Luke Skywalker – who ended up with a great cyborg hand at the end of The Empire Strikes Back.  The second is that the devices themselves are just amazing, and look to really make a tremendous impact in peoples’ lives.  You can see a fascinating video of the arms in clinical trials here.

Watching the video also brings to mind the very salient argument put forward by, as I recall, Warren Ellis: that cyborg/bionic super arms, ala Steve Austin, Jamie Summers, or any of the various superheros over the years, wouldn’t work.  It’s not because the technology can’t get there, but simply because any overpowered limb would generate torques or other forces too strong for the human infrastructure to support.  Simply speaking, a bionic arm would pop off long before it could pick up a car and throw it.  Sad, but true.  Just don’t tell your kids, not yet.

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