When many people hear the phrase “advancing technology”, they think about the introduction of a new product that does something that no other has done before. However, to some “advancing technology” means bringing back the ability to do the most basic things.
One place where technology is making an enormous impact is in the medical community. A particular area where a lot of time and effort is going is with artificial limbs. Scientists have been working on making artificial limbs that look and operate similarly to natural limbs, but there is one thing that we couldn’t replicate: the sense of touch. However, recently a European research team created the first prosthetic implant that allows the user to recover their sense of touch. This may sound like science fiction, but a corporation called École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EFPL) is heading this project and they are making amazing progress. The way they have been able to make this technology possible is with the use of computer chips that quickly send and receive data with the user’s brain and the artificial limb. This quick interaction of information is what allows the patient to have the sense of feeling in the limb again. In a recent test, an amputee, Dennis Aabo Sorensen, was able to distinguish between different types of cups and plastics, as well as many other items. Apparently, the artificial senses feel very similarly to a real hand.
This technology is an extremely big deal for a lot of people. According to the amputee coalition, there are 2 million people in the United States alone that have lost at least one of their limbs. This new technology could potentially bring back not only a functional mechanical new limb, but it could also bring back their sense of touch. Granted, mass producing limbs that have senses for amputees is at least years away, it provides hope for all of those people who assumed they would never feel with their hands, legs, or feet again.
So, what does the future hold? Could we design the artificial limbs of our dreams that can be installed on our bodies and could work as seamlessly as a natural body part? It’s unlikely anytime soon. However, this new technology that is being developed in Denmark is bringing us another giant leap forward towards that dream. This new technology is not only a giant leap forward with bio-tech, but it’s also bringing us into the world of science fiction.