Just as Luke Skywalker does with his robotic hand in the Star Wars film series, a new ultrasonic sensor allows amputees to control each of their prosthetic fingers individually, researchers report. The device provides fine motor hand gestures that aren’t possible with current commercially available devices.

Jason Barnes, a musician who lost part of his right arm five years ago, was the first amputee to use it, allowing him to play the piano for the first time since his accident. He can even play the Star Wars theme song. The 28-year-old Barnes was electrocuted during a work accident in 2012, forcing doctors to amputate his right arm just below the elbow. Barnes no longer has his hand and most of his forearm but does have the muscles in his residual limb that control his fingers.

“Our prosthetic arm is powered by ultrasound signals,” says Gil Weinberg, a professor from the Georgia Tech College of Design who leads the project. “By using this new technology, the arm can detect which fingers an amputee wants to move, even if they don’t have fingers.”

Read more about Jason’s story and the new ultrasonic sensor device at: http://www.futurity.org/star-wars-robotic-hand-1631842/

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