Robotic limbs that rely solely on mind-control are quickly moving out of the realm of science fiction and into the day-to-day lives of amputees. One of these robotic limbs is the prosthetic arm developed by 15 year old Shiva Nathan. Nathan’s robotic arm borrows technology from NeuroSky’s Mindwave Mobile headset– a device originally developed to allow users to play games with their mind. The Mindwave Mobile collects data from its built-in electroencephalograph (EEG) then transmits it via Bluetooth to the user’s smartphone or tablet. Nathan hacked the technology so that the EEG would sync to his robotic arm instead.
In the realm of robotic limbs, Nathan’s arm is fairly simple. It cannot distinguish between small gestures the way more sophisticated prosthetics can. However, it does distinguish between resting and active states and can deliver real time movement with just the user’s thoughts. In addition, Nathan’s arm is a much more economic solution as it is made from readily available materials. He has received accolades from various groups to continue his work, and he is now working to develop technology which would allow individual finger movement using eye-tracking technology alone.