Guitar Hero as training for bionic arms

Researchers are using Guitar Hero to help train amputees who will use electrical signals from their residual muscles to control next generation bionic arms. From IEEE Spectrum:
In mid-October, Johns Hopkins University researchers Robert Armiger and Jacob Vogelstein traveled to RP 2009 partner Duke University, in Durham, N.C., to test the system on its target demographic, in this case Iraq veteran Jon Kuniholm. Kuniholm’s right hand was lost to shrapnel three years ago. About to finish his Ph.D. at Duke’s Center for Biologically Inspired Materials and Material Systems, Kuniholm has been a volunteer for the DARPA program for the past two years and is the outspoken founder of the Open Prosthetics Project, an open-source Web site, independent of DARPA, that aims to make prosthetic-arm technology as open source and collaborative as Linux and Firefox.

With electrodes attached to his residual arm, Kuniholm was able to operate the frets using signals from the muscles there. “It’s fun,” says Kuniholm, who achieved the highest score reported by the experimental subjects: 70 percent. Kuniholm says that while Air Guitar Hero is the only game so far that requires individual finger movement to train an amputee to deal with those muscles again, the real success is in striving for a realistic goal. “You’re doing something simple,” he says. “It’s not rocket science. But you have to do it fast and you have to time it right.”
For Those Without Hands, There's Air Guitar Hero



  1. Mr. Kuniholm was the convocation speaker at (and an alumnus of) my high school last year. I’m glad improvements are being made in prostheses — maybe some good will come of all the thousands of amputees returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    On the other hand, wouldn’t it be easier to achieve good GH scores by wiring the arm to the game system? So you’d just have to *think* the frets?

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