Inside a small hospital-room-turned-laboratory in Baltimore, a bald man sits in a wheelchair. Electrical wires lead from his head into a rack of computers, which are plugged into black prosthetic arms that seem to be moving on their own. The man’s actual arms lie folded on his lap. Two researchers call out commands to him — “left, up, again, right, down” — and record data as it streams from video monitors.
The man, Buz Chmielewski, grimaces as he tries to make the prosthetic arms reach for a set of red and blue cloth balls taped to a white board. “Pinch, pinch, extend,” he mutters. “Come on! There we go.” He grunts, bobs his head, and one of the bionic carbon-fiber arms slowly rises and extends. He is controlling the arm using signals from his brain.
[photo courtesy of Johns Hopkins API]