Ryerson students create brain-powered prosthetic arm

Two years ago as first-year students, Ryerson science pros Michal Prywata and Thiago Caires impressed each other with their school projects: Michal built a USB port that worked with electrocardiograms and Thaigo designed pneumatic-moved artificial muscles.

Soon the two were combining their innovations to design the world's first brain-powered prosthetic arm, garnering attention from the biomedical engineering world and earning them an invitation to next month's American Society of Mechanical Engineers' innovation showcase.

They call their project the Artificial Muscle Operated (AMO) Hand.

Their arm took a year to design. The resulting prototype responds to four brainwave commands, allowing the user to stretch out the hand, bend the elbow, turn the wrist and close the hand.

The lack of major electronic parts sets the arm apart by making it cheaper to build and maintain. Also, unlike most others on the market, it's waterproof.

As technology is fine-tuned, the movement possibilities are thought to be endless.

"We wanted something more affordable, easier to use and more functional than many of the prosthetic arms on the market," Michal told the Toronto Star.

The entrepreneurial pair have started their own company, Bionik Laboratories. They also reveal that they're soon to launch another device, one that will enable paraplegics to "walk."

Graduating is also on the agenda, of course. They are, after all, still in school.