Blogging with Becky
If you have not heard of Ted.com, get ready to add it to your must listen to list. I have to forewarn you it can be very addictive. Since 1990, some of the most intriguing people in the world have been invited to speak at an annual, invitation-only conference in California. Speakers have included such people as former U.S. President Bill Clinton, U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and Billy Graham.
In 2006, they started putting the speeches online. While the topics range the gamut, I am particularly drawn to the talks on technology. Recently, Inventor Dean Kamen previewed a prosthetic arm he’s developing at the request of the US Department of Defense. If his name sounds familiar, he is also the inventor of the Segway.
Prosthetic devices have been pretty much the same since the U.S. Civil War. Until now, a state-of-the-art prosthetic arm has meant having up to three powered joints. However, since this type of arm is frustrating to control and doesn’t provide that much functionality, many people still opt for the hook-and-cable device which has been around for over a century. In either case, these prosthetics only have three degrees of freedom—a user can move the elbow, the wrist, and open and close some variant of a hook.
Dean is developing a a 9-pound robotic arm and hand that has as much computing power as 14 PCs. It enables someone with an amputation that may have only minimal control to perform tasks ranging from eating M&Ms one at a time to using a portable power drill. Below he dicusses his new prosthetic arm.
While farmers and ranchers with amputations have a need for more durable prosthetic devices to be developed, it is exciting to see the vast improvements that are under way. These developments will drastically change prosthetics in the near future.