The goal for this project is to produce a low cost modular neuroprosthetic. By making the arm modular and localizing motors and their controllers within the components they control, the arm can be configured to fit multiple different kinds of amputees. The user control aspect is also quite different from most neuroprosthetics. I hoped to develop an arm which functions as similar to a real limb as possible. This means looking for indications of certain actions in targeted areas of the brain. It uses a combination of EMG (muscle activity) for muscles that are still there, while using EEG(brain activity) to control components no longer available. For example, for a elbow dis-articulation, the user’s upper arm muscles are still present and can be used to control the elbow joint, while the muscles for the hand and wrist are no longer present, so EEG analysis must be used to control those aspects. There is little evidence that any real world examples of functional prosthetic exist outside of this project, which leads me to believe this is the first prosthetic arm in the world to incorporate both as a control option.
The arm has gone through multiple design phases, and is currently on its third major redesign. This third design is proposed to be a full arm with 11 degrees of freedom and a completely modular design. Printed Circuit Boards provided by ExpressPCB will be used to help maximize space management, as well as improve aesthetics and reliability. This design and ones to follow will provide functionality comparable, and in many cases better than commercial prosthetic as a fraction of the price and controlled in a natural manner. I will be publishing as much information about my design as I can in the hopes others can improve upon it. I have started an instructables page and will be starting a website to document the arm’s development, as well as periodic updates to be posted to this page. Along with this summary there will also be a few photos of some of the other prototypes (and parts) I have been working on over the past few months.
The project has seen substantial progress recently. The full CAD designs for the hand have been completed, and can be found on the download page of the website. In addition to the completion of the CAD designs, the project has also become a fiscally sponsored project of the Institute for Education, Research, and Scholarships. This gives the project many opportunities it once did not have access to. The project is eligible for many grants and may accept tax deductible donations.
On the software side of things, research and early development has begun on supervised machine learning software for EEG analysis. This software will be much more accurate and reliable than the previous software used to analyze brain activity. The hope is that once the software is completed, the software can be distributed to others allowing for it to be utilized in various prosthetics. In this way, the project will develop a great prosthetic of its own, but also help to improve all other prosthetics.
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