When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, a few of us had been fortunate sufficient to seek out ourselves with ample free time to develop a talent or work on a ardour challenge. For some, that meant studying how you can bake bread; for 17-year-old Benjamin Choi, it meant growing a prosthetic arm that may be managed by the consumer’s thoughts.
Choi has all the time been fascinated with the idea of thought-controlled prosthetics, having first seen one on an episode of “60 Minutes,” based on Smithsonian Journal. However he didn’t like how inaccessible these prosthetics had been as they required mind implants (and due to this fact dangerous surgical procedure) to work. So when the pandemic slammed the brakes on what would have been Choi’s summer season analysis challenge, he set about creating a less expensive and safer resolution.
He used prior engineering and coding expertise (garnered from faculty and Stack Overflow) to design a sturdy prosthetic arm, in addition to an AI algorithm able to translating the consumer’s mind waves into instructions. The system is accompanied by a comparatively small headset, which makes use of electroencephalography (EEG) to learn the consumer’s brainwaves. The headset sends these readings by way of Bluetooth to a microchip embedded within the prosthetic, the place Choi’s algorithm deciphers the brainwaves and turns them into motion. The ultimate product prices simply $300 to make.
As simple as Choi makes this look, his journey to growing a working prototype wasn’t simple. He initially needed to retailer his algorithm within the cloud and run communications by way of Wi-Fi. This wasn’t sensible although, for the reason that consumer must stay related to Wi-Fi and the prosthetic’s actions could be considerably delayed. He additionally created greater than 75 variations of the prosthetic earlier than selecting its remaining design.
Right this moment, Choi’s algorithm consists of “over 23,000 traces of code, with 978 pages of math and 7 utterly new sub-algorithms.” Its common stage of accuracy is 95 p.c, which far surpasses the trade’s normal, which Choi says hovers round 73 p.c.
Since his invention caught widespread consideration final yr, the now-high faculty graduate has received a number of awards. He’s additionally earned a fellowship at Stony Brook College, and purchased a grant to supply his prosthetic. Choi has even obtained provisional patents each for the prosthetic and his algorithm, although he’s revealed directions for anybody who’d prefer to 3D print a prosthetic arm of their very own.