We showed you some of the video from Dean Kamen’s appearance at the All Things D: D6 conference back in May and it included some demos of the amazing Luke Arm prosthetic limb. Now All Things D has made the three-part entire interview available, and it includes detailed explanations from Kamen about why he got into the research and development of the limb, and specifics of the development process from early prototypes up. It’s fascinating, and Kamen makes for compelling watching.
In the second part Kamen talks about how the arm’s control systems were developed, simplifying an 18-degrees of freedom movement space so that it could be controlled almost subconsciously by the user.
Part three is where Kamen talks about his not-for profit scheme to get young people interested in science through robots: “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology” (FIRST); “like sports, nobody ever walks around saying ‘I wanna be second’.”
Interesting stuff, as I said, and the Luke arm seems to have a pretty astounding future ahead of it. I can’t help thinking I would have asked a few more direct questions though. Is the arm dexterous enough for it to let a wearer/user use the toilet? When the Luke arm gets to that level of sophistication—and, more importantly, when its developer/users trust it enough to do intimate tasks like that with it—that’s the point at which I reckon the arm will stop being a science-technology showpiece and really make a difference in people’s lives. Over to you in the comments. [Kara.AllthingsD]