Dean Kamen's prosthetic "Luke" arm

Dean "Segway" Kamen's prosthetic "Luke" arm (as in Luke Skywalker) is ready for clinical trials. It's now up to DARPA, who funded the project through the Revolutionizing Prosthetics contract, to determine whether to foot the bill for human testing, and the FDA to approve the trials. The new issue of IEEE Spectrum has a feature on the ready-to-wear Luke arm. From the article:
KamenarmWhen DARPA director Tony Tether and Revolutionizing Prosthetics program manager Colonel Geoffrey Ling approached him in 2005, Kamen says he thought they were crazy–“in the good kind of way,” he says. There was no financial incentive to create a next-generation prosthetic arm. The research and development costs were enormous. Unless funded by DARPA, no private company would take such a risk for such a comparatively small market (in the Americas, about 6000 people require arm prostheses each year). Kamen spent a few weeks traveling around the country interviewing patients, doctors, and researchers to get an idea of the current technology–and soon saw the deficit in available arm prosthetics. He was swayed by the discrepancy between the current state of leg prostheses and that of arm prostheses. “Prosthetic legs are in the 21st century,” he says. “With prosthetic arms, we’re in the Flintstones.”

Previously on BB:
• Sense of touch restored to amputees Link
• Open source prosthetics movement Link
• Bionic arm Link


  1. OKAY guys and gals. Howz about you start printing the names of organizations or ideas in full instead of acronyms. I for one would be interested to know what DRM or DARPA or any of the myriad acronyms represent. Call me uncool but then again, there’s no such thing as cool, only fashion.

  2. I’ll never understand why people complain about “insufficient detail” or explanation in a blog post. How hard is it to hop over to Google and look an acronym up if you don’t recognize it? I don’t think that “uncool” is the word I would use to describe it, though . . .

    Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

  3. money for weapons,money for plague, money for poisons, no money for all those missing limbs? If no one cares about the landmined children etc. how about for “your own” soldiers?

    Lets chop some limbs of some of the people running things and see if priorities change. Dibs on the fat, scowling bald guy.

  4. How long before folks who have two functional arms decide to lop one off in order to get the iArm?

    Seriously. If Dean Kamen makes this arm in just a few short years, and it seems nothing less than miraculous… well, in ten years the feature set will be even sweeter.

  5. “…and we want you to make it so that if a soldier has his arm blown off we can replace it and get him right back in the front line…”

    @Ployntabs: You’re on the internet. Do what I do if I don’t know what something is. Look it up.

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