Eerie welding gear isn’t the only thing on display at the forthcoming Siggraph conference in LA. Researchers from Tokyo will be presenting something called “PossessedHand,” an apparatus that can actually control your hand for you. Isn’t human-machine interaction generally supposed to go the other way?
PossessedHand is interesting, if a little freaky. The device is strapped to the forearm and applies electrical stimuli, using them to direct the motion of your finger joints. The whole set-up comprises a micro-controller and a pair of forearm belts, which together have 28 pads (each pad specializes on a certain sense of muscles). You know when the doctor tests your reflexes by striking your knee, and you move involuntarily? Now imagine dozens of little signals like that working in concert.
“Concert,” actually, is a key word here–becauese one of the applications of the device is musical. As Dvice put it in an earlier look at the tech, “Do you want to play the violin, but can’t be bothered to learn how?” The notion, I gather, is that you can simply program the device to teach you just what strings to press, and where, and at what intensity. I can’t imagine deft performance coming from this anytime soon–but it does evoke a frightening sci-fi future in which, if this technology were extrapolated, behavior could be divorced from volition.
But I get ahead of myself. There are plenty of genuinely good uses for the technology, apart from cheating at violin lessons (or creating armies of zombie slaves). PossessedHand also evokes a sci-fi past, after all–a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Remember the cyborg hand Luke Skywalker gets at the end of Empire? By the time Jedi rolled around, it was good as new, and he was wielding that lightsaber more deftly than ever before. Perhaps those with neurological disorders might someday have their limp hands reanimated by such a device, which was reportedly co-developed by Tokyo University and Sony.
For more details of the project, check out the site of the Rekimoto Lab. And for a look at the thing in action, see this video.
Promising, no? But do you think we’ll require regulation on such devices, so that they don’t get, well, out of hand?
Meta has built a massive new language AI—and it’s giving it away for free
Facebook’s parent company is inviting researchers to pore over and pick apart the flaws in its version of GPT-3
The gene-edited pig heart given to a dying patient was infected with a pig virus
The first transplant of a genetically-modified pig heart into a human may have ended prematurely because of a well-known—and avoidable—risk.
Saudi Arabia plans to spend $1 billion a year discovering treatments to slow aging
The oil kingdom fears that its population is aging at an accelerated rate and hopes to test drugs to reverse the problem. First up might be the diabetes drug metformin.
Yann LeCun has a bold new vision for the future of AI
One of the godfathers of deep learning pulls together old ideas to sketch out a fresh path for AI, but raises as many questions as he answers.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.