Northern Kentucky University Develops Prosthetics Controlled by Mind through 3D Printing Technology

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Northern Kentucky University (NKU) has made significant strides in developing a mind-controlled prosthetic arm utilizing bleeding-edge 3D printing and brain-computer interface (BCI) technologies. This innovative venture is directed by Assistant Professor Mahdi Yazdanpour, alongside his multidisciplinary team, with an overarching goal to alter the existence of arm amputees drastically.

What sets the prosthetic arm from the NKU team apart is its non-invasive methodology, eradicating the necessity for operations or sensor implants that other robotic arms typically need. In place of electromyography (EMG) systems, they engage electroencephalography (EEG) systems, which facilitate users to regulate the bionic arm merely by contemplating particular movements.

The user dons an EEG cap that is connected to a computer, which catches and encodes brain signals. Upon the system’s familiarization with these signals, the user can effortlessly commandeer the movements of the prosthetic arm in real-time.

Significantly, the team at NKU sees a future where prosthetics controlled by the mind blend effortlessly into everyday life. Their ambition is to incorporate sensors into common objects, such as hats, to wirelessly collect EEG signals via WiFi, thus eliminating the need for a physical connection. This breakthrough could potentially revolutionize how users engage with their prosthetic limbs.

Moving forward, the team is committed to broadening the capabilities of their design. The subsequent phase includes incorporating pressure and heat sensors on the fingertips, delivering tactile feedback to users. This innovation holds potential for developing a more engaging and interactive prosthetic experience.

As the NKU team applies for additional funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to drive their research, they continue committed to enhancing and evolving their mind-controlled prosthetic hand. The strides made in this project demonstrate the potential of BCI technology, promising to significantly alter the prosthetics field and provide a glimpse into a future where individuals with limb differences can experience enhanced mobility and control.


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