I can control a robotic arm with the power of my mind. IAm Jan Scheuermann, guinea pig extraordinaire. AMA
Proof: Me, and me with 60 Minutes host Scott Pelley. You can recognize me in the UPMC video about the study, from the UPMC Media Kit on the brain-controlled interface, or from the promo about the piece on the study on 60 Minutes, which will be premiering tonight around 7:30!
IAmA 53 year-old quadriplegic woman who enrolled in a study at the University of Pittsburgh medical Center (UPMC) last fall. In February, I had brain surgery to insert two sensors into the motor cortex area of my brain. One week later, I was moving a robotic arm with my thoughts.
Since then, the research team and I have been putting Hector (the name I gave the robotic arm) through his paces. I have learned how to move him to pick up and move objects, to interact with the environment, to shake hands, to play rock paper scissors, and ultimately, to feed myself. Much has been made over the fact that I fed myself chocolate. I also fed myself string cheese and red pepper.
This technology will advance rapidly. The possibilities are amazing. Down the road, the cables will not be necessary. Subjects will need smaller implants, and the robotic arm will be smaller and portable. Eventually, amputees will be able to move prosthetic arms with their minds.
Before my illness, I ran Deadly Affairs, a successful Murder Mystery Party business. Spurred on by my success in the UPMC study, I finally finished editing and self-published my first book, Sharp as a Cucumber, on Amazon Kindle last July. My book is based the script of one of my most popular murder mysteries.
I am lucky to be part of this study. I am so excited to go to the lab and try new things and achieve new goals. Being part of this project has given me a new sense of purpose and awakened me to the fact that I am more than the body I live in. I am so happy that seeing this video and the story tonight on 60 Minutes will give hope to a lot of handicapped people. It won't happen tomorrow, but hang in there! It will happen.
I am happy to answer questions. As I cannot type, my daughter will be helping me throughout the AMA. I will be answering questions until around 6pm EST, when I will leave and go watch my 60 Minutes premiere!
EDIT 12pm: (From Jan's daughter) I messed up opening the little envelopes somehow, so I'm having difficulty finding all the new questions. Please be patient! We will get to them all! :)
EDIT 3pm: Taking a break for lunch now! I have been answering questions for 5 hours straight. Afterwards, I will come back to do some more, but I stopped answering the same questions over and over. If you didn't get an answer to your question, check my post history -- I've answered it somewhere!
EDIT 4pm: Back for two more hours. Thank you all for all your questions and encouragement.
EDIT 6pm: Finished answering questions for today. If I didn't answer yours, check through my comment history -- I'm sure I answered it somewhere else. Thank you all for your interest, your questions, and for your support and encouragement! Check out Sharp as a Cucumber at Amazon.com, and be sure to check out Hector and me in action tonight on 60 Minutes!