Updated: Jan 17, 2020
Today while riding the bus from the bottom part of South Korea up to Seoul I was wondering a non invasive way of tapping into the body's natural nerve pulses for amputees.
There are start ups and even a group that 3D prints designs. Here in Korea, a team even made a prosthetic that can interpret touch but it is still in its crude, beginning stages. Until we are able to successfully clone whole limbs or better yet, regrow them like what I first read about in the sci fi novel Forever War, we need to develop prosthetics that can be used and relay touch back to a person's brain similar to how it would naturally.
It is my opinion that these great minds at these startups and large corporations are going about it the wrong way. They start by mimicking the bone structures of the hand and elbow joint.
Some attempt to implement a control mechanism which often requires permanent muscle altering surgery to the upper arm as a means to allow better control of the plastic limbs. This seems like a very archaic way of design to me.
These people are intelligent and capable of taking their creations a step much further.
Instead of focusing on the mechanics from the beginning, why not focus on interaction with the existing nervous system and build the limb around that concept? In order to get a glimpse at what I mean I want to show you this old wordpress site created by The Manchester Fly Facility operating out of The University of Manchester.
They study the widely used fruit fly to better understand how the nervous system in humans and other organisms operates for numerous reasons they list in their posts.
It was on their simple wordpress site that my mind was opened wide. They have some excellent animations with explanations that are simple enough to understand if you read it over a few times.
Basically, the nervous system is electrically charged as we know. They even know the transmission ranges in Hz and the thresholds for relaying electrical signals down the nerves in terms of milliamps. Again, mind altering facts.
If this is not profound to you I suggest you take a look at their diagrams here.
Basically, there are gates which act as insulators. When the charge within one section is raised just above 0 mA it opens up the gate and allows the transfer of potentials between the two channels! Just like a transistor!
If you aren't familiar with how a transistor works you SHOULD. Check out my tutorial here where I explain it as simply as I know how to. It is just enough to get you going.
The incredible thing is as the potentials are exchanged, aka current flows through the gate, the channel gradually closes the gate as the positive charge drops down again to a negative charge. Its on the milli amp level so its very small and very efficient. the channels with the gates are connected in series which you should be familiar with in my battery tutorial here. If the first channel is positive, aka ON, aka '1', then the subsequent channel is negative, aka OFF, aka closed, aka '0'. Your body communicates electrically and we mirror that fact when we make our electronic circuits.
I always tell people I meet that learning electronics and robotics taught me more about my physical body and my relation with the physical world more than anything else in my life. It feels GOOD! It makes me excited enough to want to share it with others. We can see the "Hand of God" so to speak in everything. Its all connected and communicating electrically.
I don't want to preach anything. I want to help you start to simplify your understanding. I am a firm believer that there is one universal principle at work and that it creates many complex and different looking effects or conditions but at the heart of it all, on the most basic level is that one principle.
While the learning curve is steep, there is much for you to gain in this study of robotics/electronics. You should start to look for similarities between the electronic world and the natural world.
By doing so you may discover designs that noone else has thought of or more importantly attempted to actually make.
If you haven't already, check out my channel where I post tutorial videos showing what I have learned so that you can learn in a fraction of the time!
If it gets confusing or difficult, TAKE A BREAK and COME BACK.