'Star Wars' prosthetic arm gains FDA approval

DARPA's Revolutionizing Prosthetics program, which aimed to gain U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for a "prosthetic upper limb with near-natural control mechanisms," has been successful. DARPA says the FDA approved the DEKA Arm System shown here in less than eight years after the start of the program. 

The agency says the aim of the program is to offer more choices for amputees. The split-hook prosthetic commonly used by amputees was invented in 1912. (Via DARPAFlickr / Divine Harvester)

Using specialized sensors attached to the upper arm or the feet, the device can translate what the user aims to do — turning electrical signals in the muscles into movement. (Via  ​DARPA)

DARPA says the battery-powered arm is comparable to a natural arm in weight and size. The system is delicate enough to handle grapes and even eggs, as we showed you before.

A writer for Bloomberg says DARPA provided $40 million in funding to DEKA Research and Development Corp., the arm's developer.

According to the outlet, researchers at the company nicknamed the device "Luke," after a certain amputee who lost his arm in a lightsaber fight. (Via Lucasfilm / "The Empire Strikes Back")

A writer for The Verge notes this is the first prosthetic of its kind to get FDA approval. The device's ability to "accomplish multiple, robotically-powered movements at once" is what makes it unique.

In a press release announcing approval of the DEKA arm, the FDA said the device had a positive impact on its users. It allowed "some people to perform more complex tasks than they can with current prostheses in a way that more closely resembles the natural motion of the arm."

FDA approval of the device will allow the company to manufacture and sell the DEKA arm — no word on pricing or when it could be brought to market. (Via DARPA)

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Health

Parenting with the Kid Whisperer: Mom or servant? Hmmm…

Dear Kid Whisperer, I have three boys, aged 8, 12, and 16, who are all quite disrespectful and very unappreciative of me. It’s very hurtful. I am a stay-at-home mom and I think of myself as being great at my job. I cook them hot meals, do their laundry, clean their rooms, drive them everywhere, and help them with their homework. I take care of...
D.L. STEWART: Some generations’ changes don’t add up

People of a younger generation can, and do, poke fun at their elders’ fumbling attempts to cope with modern technology. I do it all the time, although that’s getting a lot harder, because I don’t have as many elders as I used to. When you need an easy laugh, you can’t go wrong joking about mom trying to Skype or grandpa putting...
Coupon deals of the week
Coupon deals of the week

Coupon availability and coupon values may vary within different regions or neighborhoods. Arm and Hammer Toothpaste This week at Rite-Aid, Arm and Hammer toothpaste is on sale for $3. Although you pay this price upfront, when you check out you will get 200 PlentiPoints back, which is equivalent to $2 good off your next purchase. When you factor in...
Parenting with Dr. Ramey: 6 of the best, most inspiring quotes

In addition to collecting baseball cards, I started writing down favorite quotes when I was in elementary school. My mom “cleaned out” (i.e., threw away) my cards when I went to college, but I’ve continued to collect the inspirational perspectives from others. My collection has changed over the years. I’ve deleted “feel...
He does what? Dogs’ quirks fit them to a Q
He does what? Dogs’ quirks fit them to a Q

Just like their human counterparts, dogs have quirks. Those strange and sometimes unexplainable habits. Dog’s quirks befuddle and amuse their owners. ››MORE PETS: Painting with your dog At the next party you attend, start up a conversation about you dog’s funny habits. It won’t take long for others to describe...
More Stories