What to do once your arm has mindboggling amounts of DOF but your stump can only address 2-3 ? [tech scifi stuff]

Currently, media are swamped with the display of what they call "phantom limb project" (really not the first time that someone uses "phantom" for a prosthetic arm; read about my Becker Phantom hand from 3 years ago right here). So apparently, some prosthetic technician spent major amounts of time trying to construct this computer game look-a-like arm to a degree where its user apparently considers that he is a cyborg with an additional "cyborg mother", as if prosthetic parts have parents, too. Yeah, and my website also has a "cyborg father". If you listen for him, you might hear him breathe, "...khhhhh-ccccchhhhhhhhh-khhhhhhh-czzzzzh...".


Where is Amber Case, when we need her.

Now, while that Metal Gear inspired prosthetic arm design worn by James Young certainly does not look like it is going to wreck major brick walls any time soon, they might explore entirely different aspects of such equipment.


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Elements of a costume

I am not sure what it really is though, but there are very definite unmistaken elements of a costume here.

Not as in "carnival" (with the invariable "the carnival is over" sequel) but "let us have carnival every day". They might consider marketing it to the direction of some SUPER HERO thing; that also would not be new but it would somehow give it a brand appeal. Brand appeals are known to be of particular value to boys (men, not so much) so why not advance and explore exactly that aspect.

So one thing one could try was to emulate the attached SUPER HERO appeal into every day life.

After all, real super heroes do not just walk around wearing cardigans and polite nice haircuts - if at all, a cardigan or nice haircut is part of their camouflage. Any perceived doll role may happen on more than one level here.

What happens if this prosthetic arm design yields a whole scheme, a whole dress code, a whole set of leather or metal embroidered clothing line and styling choice?

Making this piece of designed arm that currently stands out against otherwise unspectacular clothes of its user a part of something that, overall and in its entirety, is outstandingly well fashioned and coordinated? If designing an arm well results in this type of "aggressive" "Metal Gear Solid" prosthetic arm design, where is the matching haircut? If at all one starts to misunderstand a prosthetic arm as "costume", why not follow through with it for a bit more? At least for a few weeks or months just to get this thing going and apparel worn in.


DOF and controls

With very limited actual controls that really (really) work, why not equip the whole thing with some choreographed moves that really look like "something". Like, full body driven full arm gestures.

I would not go as far as really making that guy change a car wheel or putting on snow chains, or cutting his partner's hair with the prosthetic arm. But at least trying to mimic some symbolic acts would clearly underpin the overall design claim that extends beyond the visually visible here.

Attempting body jerk initiated small scripted activities:

  • Signing with a pen - providing the user's signature?
  • Translating intended body roll into actual finger type / slap down motions?

Express emotions:

  • Applauding, actually clapping hands?
  • Providing a hug.

Synchronize with body motion:

  • Picking up a gait pattern from motion sensors and actuating actual walking-related swing motions? Accompany brisk walk, standing, running? That would be an orthopedic innovation.
  • Coordinated with some dance routine.

Ball sports integration:

  • Translating body roll into table tennis racket motion?
  • Play golf.
  • Play basket ball, dribble ball.

Is that new?


The current paradigm of prosthetic arms consists in having the devices re-act. They need to be fast because they always happen second - they never lead. They follow. They therefore logically depend, in their success, on what is thrown at them. Once one breaks out of that mindset, the usual requirements - how fast, how much can it hold, etc. - become irrelevant. And for this arm, you may actually want these aspects to be irrelevant. That does not mean it has no role - no; but it may mean that the questions asked about prosthetic arms have been the wrong questions.

Even just having a full prosthetic arm adapt to body motion overall in a proactive manner would be ground breaking. This attempt to pro-active decoration is preceded by the notorious infamous "Prunkzwang" (societally forced decoration) of aristocrats, around and after the French revolution (Norbert Elias), and points to a deeper rooted access to such values and hopes or ideations in the upper rather than blue collar class (more here).

Using a "custome" to "act" rather than "re-act" would redefine the prosthetic arm paradigm in a more theme or direction oriented sense. That would be a very worthwhile avenue to investigate and try out. A recent study [1] showed just that: these types of arms, including the proverbial "3d printed" arms, have their actual potential not in shredding physical reality, in "real" work, blue collar type exposure and hard repeated grips or pushes - no. Being human can mean to sit still, to perform soft gestures, and to communicate on proactively enacted different levels than just cutting hedges and performing sweat-generating hard grind.


[1] A. Y. Alhaddad, S. E. AlKhatib, R. A. Khan, S. M. Ismail, A. S. Shehadeh, A. M. Sadeq, and J. Cabibihan, "Toward 3D Printed Prosthetic Hands that Can Satisfy Psychosocial Needs: Grasping Force Comparisons Between a Prosthetic Hand and Human Hands," in International Conference on Social Robotics, 2017, pp. 304-313.
  title={Toward 3D Printed Prosthetic Hands that Can Satisfy Psychosocial Needs: Grasping Force Comparisons Between a Prosthetic Hand and Human Hands},
  author={Alhaddad, Ahmad Yaser and AlKhatib, Sami Emad and Khan, Rahib Ahmed and Ismail, Salman Mohammad and Shehadeh, Al-Sendibad Said and Sadeq, Abdellatif Mohammad and Cabibihan, John-John},
  booktitle={International Conference on Social Robotics},

Cite this article:
Wolf Schweitzer: swisswuff.ch - What to do once your arm has mindboggling amounts of DOF but your stump can only address 2-3 ? [tech scifi stuff]; published 08/03/2016, 19:08; URL: https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=5779.

BibTeX: @MISC{schweitzer_wolf_1653031132, author = {Wolf Schweitzer}, title = {{swisswuff.ch - What to do once your arm has mindboggling amounts of DOF but your stump can only address 2-3 ? [tech scifi stuff]}}, month = {March}, year = {2016}, url = {https://www.swisswuff.ch/tech/?p=5779} }