Light Sensor Offers Non-Invasive Way To Control Artificial Limbs

Technique Works By Shining Light Into Muscle


A light-based sensor developed at St Andrews University could be used to control the movement of artificial limbs.

A team at the university has created a wearable sensor that detects muscle contraction by shining light into fibrous muscle.

When the user's muscles contract, the sensor detects the way light is scattered and relays the information to a robotic arm, which can then move accordingly.

The technique could prove to be much less expensive and less risky than the current electrical-based sensors, which are prone to electromagnetic interference and rejection by the patient's body.

Professor Ifor Samuel of the School of Physics and Astronomy at St Andrew's University said the approach also has the advantages of being non-invasive, flexible and lightweight.

"By using light we avoid needles that would be needed to make electrical contact," he said.

"A very interesting possible use would be for the control of prosthetic limbs."

Expert Opinion
This pioneering treatment is in its very early stages, but it could potentially provide a great deal of assistance to those who have suffered a variety of serious injuries. Accidents that result in the amputation of a limb have a devastating and life-changing impact on those involved and this new technology brings hope that further help will be offered to victims that will aid their recovery.

"While it is of course very early days, it will be interesting to see research and work in this area develop and we hope that we will see the use of this new development in the future.”
Jonathan Peacock, Partner

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