BrainCo has developed a new AI-driven prosthesis that works with amputees’ brain waves and muscle signals to sense the movements they want to perform,media CNET reported. The product, which is currently awaiting FDA approval, has been named one of the 100 biggest inventions of 2019 by Time magazine. BrainCo unveiled its final model of the prosthesis at CES 2020 on Monday – a product the company expects to be available in the U.S. later this year.
There are currently 2 million amputees in the United States. Most prostheses on the market fall into two categories: functionally constrained metal prostheses, or robotic prostheses that rely on physical buttons or shaking prostheses to switch between scheduled gestures. “We came up with a new way to understand electrical signals from the amputee’s brain and to test the user’s intentions,” Max Newlon, president of BrainCo USA, told CNET. “
With a software platform, users can use these electrical signals to train prosthesis to perform an unlimited number of gestures, and even move individual fingers, play the piano, and write calligraphy. This means that amputees no longer have to rely on a limited number of preprogrammed movements, but can tailor their prosthetics to their bodies, Says Newlon.
On the platform, the user will see a visual representation of the prosthetic hand on the screen. The user clicks a button and then manipulates the actual hand to essentially record the custom gesture. The system records specific signals from muscles. Each time a hand feels a specific “signature,” it performs a programmed gesture – a visual representation of the action they want to do.
Programming six gestures takes only 5 to 10 minutes, says Newlon. He added that the more hands users use, the better and more realistic they will be. Another major advantage of the product is the cost: it typically costs as much as $60,000, even if the robot’s prosthesis is limited. BrainCo’s smart prosthetics cost between $10,000 and $15,000.
The product is expected to be available later this year. The company also makes smaller prosthetics for children.