In our upcoming Cold War series, the men and women of the Union Wolves overcome harrowing injuries with the help of some incredible prosthetic devices. Indeed, futuristic prostheses have long been a staple of sci-fi and pop culture.
To give you and idea of how far we have to go, here’s an example of some of the fanciest tech we have available to us today:
A little hard to see, but that’s a silicone socket embedded with a net of surface electrodes. While the mechanisms of prosthetic components have advanced steadily, it hasn’t been until recently that options for control strategies have really taken off.
The system pictured above reads the entirety of the limb’s muscle signals to allow the user to control the prosthesis. It’s as close as we can come right now to reading the nerve signals in a publicly available system. Combining pattern recognition with machine learning allows this system to make the use of the prosthesis as intuitive as possible.
It’s a long way from direct control, but it’s still a quantum leap over what we had to work with up until about five years ago. Recent developments have shown us that direct nerve control of a prosthesis is viable, and trials are beginning for artificial limbs that can also provide sensory feedback.
As nerve implants get smaller and smaller we come closer to powered exoskeletons (All You Need Is Kill, Starship Troopers), virtual and augmented reality (The Matrix, Inception, Avatar), and the seamless integration of man and machine (Ghost in the Shell.)