The WOW Files: This “60 Minutes” Report On Thought-Controlled Robotic Limbs Will Astonish You

by • June 3, 2013 • Robotics, Science, Technology, The WOW FilesComments (0)2970

Last night 60 Minutes aired a remarkable story which they entitled “Breakthrough”.  Correspondent Scott Pelley rightfully opens the report with the preface: “We don’t use [the word ‘breakthrough’] very often because it’s overused.  But when you see how they have connected this robotic limb to a human brain, you’ll understand why we made an exception.”  For several years now we have seen researchers achieve results with thought-control technology, but these past results pale in comparison to what you’re about to see in this report.

In a decade of war, more than 1,300 Americans have lost limbs on the battlefield.  And that fact led the Department of Defense to start a crash program named Revolutionizing Prosthetics, aimed at helping veterans and civilians by creating an artificial arm and hand that are amazingly human.  In order to bring the technology to life, the research team needed to find a suitable test patient with a brain nimble enough to tackle the challenge ahead.  Soon enough, the team discovered Jan Scheuermann, a Pittsburgh mother of two, a writer, and a paraplegic.  Scheuermann required an intensive brain surgery which resulted in sensors being installed directly to the surface of her brain, connected to “pedestals” on the exterior of her skull which allow the researchers to plug in directly to her brain.

The complicated surgery was a resounding success, and Jan is now busy helping the team revolutionize thought control robotics.  As you watch the story below, you will also encounter another volunteer test patient by the name of 58-year-old Johnny Matheny who lost his arm to cancer.  I guarantee you: watching Jan and Johnny using their new robotic limbs is the most extraordinary thing you will see all week.

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60limbsSource: 60 Minutes

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