LOS ANGELES, Aug 8 — If you’ve ever felt like you needed an extra pair of hands, researchers in Japan might just have the answer.
“MetaLimbs” are a set of wearable robotic arms controlled by sensors attached to the feet.
Scientists from the University of Tokyo and Keio University showed off the prototype for their project at an emerging technology showcase in Los Angeles.
“We have a set of trackers attached to each foot and it measures the position, orientation as well as the toes’ motion. So when the user moves his limb, his feet, the limbs, the robotic limbs will be moving echoing the same motion. Of course we can finely tune so it doesn’t have to be one-to-one, it can be nonlinear. Plus, like, he can grip objects by moving his toes,” PhD student Yamen Saraiji of media design at Keio University in Tokyo said.
The robotic arm system, which is worn like a backpack, also recreates the sense of touch in the robotic hands using haptic feedback.
“If the limbs touch an object, we have a sensor attached to the palm of the hand as well as to the thumb. So when he grabs an object, he can feel the feedback back on his feet,” Saraiji said.
“I think it was great, actually. You could feel the, kind of, sense when you touch with the robot arm and you can feel it on the foot too. So it was quite a great experience,” SIGGRAPH conference attendee Jisu Kim said.
The MetaLimbs technology is still in the proof-of-concept phase, but researchers hope it won’t be too long before you can get your hands on an extra set of arms. — Reuters