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, and be sure to check out Hector and me in action tonight on 60 Minutes!

Comments: 1316 • Responses: 55  • Date: 

Imperiosus652 karma

Even though I don't have a question, I just want to say congratulations.

janscheuermann553 karma

Thank you very much, on behalf of the entire research team! Some of the researchers have been working towards this end for 25 years, and I am so happy to help them achieve their goal.

the_red_phone52 karma

have these researchers been so much apart of your life that you've developed relationships with them?

how directly involved were they day-to-day on your progress and goals?

janscheuermann121 karma

Of course! They are like co-workers, and they treat me not as a "subject" but as a part of their team. I've gone to a baby shower for a team member, as well as held her newborn. I've enjoyed getting to know them. Each team member is exceptional.

Meikura339 karma

Wow, that's amazing! How does the arm "feel" in comparison to a natural limb? Do you have to think about controlling it or is it natural?

Do you ever think this technology will lead to a time when people will replace their natural limbs with cybernetic ones, for example a runner may use robotic legs to compete in races?

janscheuermann665 karma

At first, the arm didn't feel natural at all. Controlling it took a lot of concentration and effort. But within a couple weeks, I realized that thinking of it as my arm and trying to move it as I would my own arm made it work better, faster, and more smoothly. I don't think about controlling it anymore -- I just look at the target, and Hector moves there. I don't have to think "up, down, back, twist" -- I just envision what I want Hector to do, and he does it.

I can't imagine people ever deliberately cutting off healthy limbs to replace them with robotic ones. To me, that is the stuff of movies and science fiction.

Basstissimo168 karma

I've heard of this before--these doctors were trying to get a patient to write on a word processor using just her thoughts and at first they told her to think of it as if she were tying with her own fingers. She could do it, but very slowly. So after a while she just started thinking about making the letters and numbers appear on the screen and the process began to speed up until she was "typing" as fast as anyone else.

NatGeo had a special about this on Taboo--one doctor was called reckless for having a Matrix-style port in the back of his head that he constantly is plugging things into; he's in robotics so his end goal is to be able to plug himself into a computer without any hitches.

People like you make me really amazed with science and hopeful about the possibilities of human beings.

Live long and prosper!

janscheuermann208 karma

Infinite diversity in infinite combinations -- there's no end in sight to what humans and technology can do! :)

Lucky_Striker300 karma

Fantastic! The very first time I read about stuff like this was back in the '80s when you had to wear a backpack full of electronics to make it work a little. So glad to see the advancements in science.

My question: how accurate are your movements, do they allow you to, say, pick up cups of liquids without spilling them or is the motor control still more rudimentary?

Also: do you have to consciously think of the movement you want to make or does it work akin to (excuse the term) "natural" muscle control, which is subconscious?

janscheuermann487 karma

The movements are pretty accurate now. I have picked up a cup of liquid with a cap on top and a straw in it, and helped myself drink some water. An uncapped cup would be tricky -- if it was full, I would probably spill some. Half-full, I might be okay. The next generation of arm and brain control will probably be able to accomplish that.

At first, the arm didn't feel natural at all. Controlling it took a lot of concentration and effort. But within a couple weeks, I realized that thinking of it as my arm and trying to move it as I would my own arm made it work better, faster, and more smoothly. I don't think about controlling it anymore -- I just look at the target, and Hector moves there. I don't have to think "up, down, back, twist" -- I just envision what I want Hector to do, and he does it.

Lucky_Striker212 karma

Great, so in a couple of years artificial limbs might be able to function as well as (or better than) natural limbs. Good for you, hope you get to become a javelin-throwing watchmaker!

I imagine the sense of self-reliance you regain must be one of the best feelings in the world.

janscheuermann332 karma

Yes, the new ability to move things and affect my environment has been thrilling. The independence that this technology will give to handicapped people is wonderful. They will be able to do much more than feed themselves chocolate! They will be able to scratch their noses -- and I'm serious, because not being able to scratch your nose when it itches is really, really frustrating. They will be able to answer phones, feed themselves, comb their hair, brush their teeth -- all parts of daily living that I always did without thinking about them.

spinnerclotho272 karma

Hector? Why did you name it Hector?

janscheuermann967 karma

Because he looked like a Hector, Silly! He was modeled after a man's arm, so it had to be a male name. Coincidentally, we found out later that Hector means "to grasp" in Greek.

HeegeMcGee261 karma

Would you consider having your non-functioning limbs amputated to be replaced with bionic equivalents if it gave you mobility / productivity?

janscheuermann321 karma

Wow, what a question. Yes, I would consider it.

whiskey_nick15 karma

What would make you not want to do it?

janscheuermann154 karma

Because I'm rather attached to my limbs.

almightybob1215 karma

How many Praxis points did this cost you?

janscheuermann380 karma

I just went to the LIMB clinic :)

supavixen207 karma

What's a Murder Mystery Party entail?

janscheuermann504 karma

Cool, thanks for asking!

I would write a Murder Mystery script for as many guests as my client had, usually 10-20 characters. I gave each character a background, telling them their job, about a couple of key relationships, and their secret. When they got to the party, in costume as their character, I gave them scripts for the evening. I didn't give anyone lines; it was all ad-libbed by the guests. For instance, "At 9 o'clock, be in the dining room. Your ex-husband will be there. Tell him he has missed his last three alimony payments, and when he tries to make excuses, call him every name in the book." By the end of the evening, one of the characters would lay dead. As Inspector Clueless, I would lead the investigation and discussion, making sure all the clues came out. The guests would vote for who they thought was the killer, then the solution was revealed, and prizes awarded. I did this for 10 years, until my health failed, and it was the most fun and rewarding job I can imagine.

FeelmyRash155 karma

That sounds like a very interesting idea. Is the person aware they are the killer or is everyone allowed to investigate?

janscheuermann236 karma

Yes, one character has read his/her script and found out that s/he is the killer. That person has to do everything necessary to commit the crime, like obtain the "poison", steal a gun, lift the knife from the kitchen, etc. except actually kill someone. The victim also knows that he/she will die.

Cormo32 karma

Is it possible to upload one of these scripts for an evening. I'm really interested how it would look in text form.

janscheuermann123 karma

Sorry, the script without someone to direct it behind the scenes is useless. During my parties, naturally, things would go awry. I had such an inside-out knowledge of the script, having written it, that I could find a fix for everything that happened. This includes the time that the killer confessed 5 minutes into the investigation. By the time the investigation was over, 45 minutes later, only 4 people out of 30 guessed she had done it because I had done a great job redirecting their attention. There are other boxed murder party games available.

Travie649241 karma

You don't know how intrigued I am with this!

It really seems like it'd be a lot of fun! Did you ever record any? I know that seems like a strange thing but I think we (or at the very least I) would love to see one in action.

janscheuermann31 karma

No, I never did. Now, of course, I wish I had.

spinnerclotho167 karma

How did you get involved with this project?

janscheuermann268 karma

In October 2011, a friend sent a link to the Tim Hemmes video. I saw a paralyzed man move a robotic arm with his mind. My first thought was, "Wow! Isn't it great that he can do that!" My second thought was, "I want to do that." At the end of the video, there was a number and a plea for volunteers. I called immediately, and after a round of testing, the researchers concluded I was a match for their study.

Mr_Satizfaction96 karma

What were the requirements to be a match?

janscheuermann88 karma

I had to be unable to move my own limbs, be intelligent and articulate, and able to communicate with the team. I also had to agree to come to the lab a few times a week for a year. This is no small commitment, but my daughter was married, my son was in college, and I had the time to devote to this.

I was screened by a psychologist to make sure I had realistic expectations of the project. We did several brain MRIs that looked at my brain while I imagined doing various activities to make sure that certain areas of my brain were responsive.

angelcake893162 karma

If you don't mind me asking- How did you become quadriplegic?

janscheuermann309 karma

Don't mind. I was a healthy 36 year-old when my legs felt weak one evening, coincidentally, at a Murder Mystery Party I was conducting. The weakness happened now and then, but became more frequent and more pronounced over several months. My arms also became weak. From January 1996 until September 1997, the disease progressed and I went from very healthy to using a cane, a walker, a wheelchair, and then a power chair. When my last limb, my right arm, gave out in 2002, I started using a chin attachment to drive my wheelchair.

The disease is Spinal Cerebellar Degeneration, which means that where my brain and spinal cord meet, there is a degeneration of unknown cause.

brekeke158 karma

Is your arm so strong that you can use it as a weapon?

janscheuermann580 karma

I could beat you at arm wrestling, but the arm is too slow to use as a weapon. Given enough time, Hector (the robotic arm) could write a disparaging comment about you.

brekeke66 karma

I didn't mean weapon literally. So in a way Hector is better, or going to be better, than your old arm, do you see it that way?

janscheuermann221 karma

No, not better, because I have no sensation of touch when I move Hector. Right now, I can grasp or not grasp -- I can not vary how hard I am grasping with Hector.

Also, every day when I get to the lab, we have to re-train and recalibrate a decoder for 20 minutes to half an hour to interpret my brain waves to move the arm. In the next generation, this daily training time will be greatly reduced or eliminated.

whosjellisnow158 karma

Can it wave a terrible towel?

janscheuermann324 karma

You mean like this?

anonymous123421138 karma

Holy fuck, does OP ever deliver!

Fixed link, by the way.

janscheuermann54 karma

Ah, thanks!

lost_trilogy27 karma

After this season, I'm not sure it wants to.

janscheuermann43 karma

A true fan supports the team even in its defeat. We'll get 'em next year!

CALEBthehun141 karma

Has the arm ever accidentally hurt you?

janscheuermann243 karma

No, Hector can't hurt me. He has a limited field of movement, and the research team has made sure that for now, he cannot even touch me. He can come close to my face, but I need to lean forward to take the bite after Hector is in position. He has bumped into some of the research team as they have been moving objects around him, but never hard enough to hurt anybody or cause injuries.

Aoladari118 karma

We're missing the important question here! Can you flip the bird with Hector?

janscheuermann135 karma

I will do some individual finger management in the next few weeks. I'm sure I will flip the bird while doing that, but I would not want to flip off anyone in the lab. Can I flip off George W.?

poofacedlemur108 karma

Since you refer to the arm as "Hector," I'm assuming you do not yet consider the arm an extension of yourself. Do you feel that this is in the future for you, or will the appendage forever maintain outsider status?

janscheuermann349 karma

In the lab, I often refer to Hector as "my arm". I will say "I got that one fast!" or "I seem to be having trouble moving left today." But when I am having trouble, then I refer to the arm as Hector, as if to blame him and not myself for his poor performance. He's like a child -- when he does well, he's my son, but when he does poorly, he's my husband's son. When he does well, he is my arm.

poofacedlemur121 karma

So, for the most part, would you say Hector is your son, your husband's son, or the milkman's bastard child?

janscheuermann288 karma

When he's good, he's not only my son, he is my right arm. When he's bad, he is the creation of deranged scientists gone bad.

SassyMouff73 karma

Mentally how straining and how difficult is it to make the arm perform the tasks of your thoughts?

janscheuermann138 karma

Mentally, it is surprisingly not draining at all. By the end of a session in the lab, I usually feel invigorated and exultant. The more I relax and make the movement natural, the easier it is.

randomb_s_97 karma

Was it necessary that you previously had full use and control of your arms, so that your brain/body had a built-in infrastructure and memory, and that you had experience controlling arms with your brain?

janscheuermann128 karma

Yes, that is why they wanted a formerly-healthy quadriplegic for the study.

Nucy66 karma

Everyone sees Stephen Hawking and thinks that people who suffer from ALS get those machines he has when in reality it would cost 10's of thousands of dollars if not more... Have the Doctors or Engineers you've been working with given you any insight as to how much they think this system could cost in its preliminary stages as well as after they streamline the technology for (hopefully) mass use?

janscheuermann137 karma

No, we have never discussed how much it would cost. We all realize that home-use robotic arms are some years away. Like the first home computers, they will get smaller, more efficient, and less expensive as time goes by.

brekeke61 karma

How did you end up in this experiment? What were the risks? It didn't cost you anything, right?

janscheuermann123 karma

In October 2011, a friend sent a link to the Tim Hemmes video. I saw a paralyzed man move a robotic arm with his mind. My first thought was, "Wow! Isn't it great that he can do that!" My second thought was, "I want to do that." At the end of the video, there was a number and a plea for volunteers. I called immediately, and after a round of testing, the researchers concluded I was a match for their study.

There were the normal risks associated with any surgery. Since the surgery, the biggest risk has been infection. But the team is meticulous about keeping the area on my scalp clean. I have had no infections, and not even a headache since the surgery.

All costs are absorbed by UPMC and the various groups funding the study. It hasn't cost me a thing.

brekeke56 karma

Oh so wires are coming out of your head? I'm guessing that's the bad part, but they'll fix that, right?

Such a great win-win situation, both for you and UPMC, it's awesome. And for humanity of course.

janscheuermann126 karma

I have two pedestals on my skull, which hold the implants in place. They are about nickel-sized wide and half an inch tall. The cables are only hooked up when I go to the lab. So I have the pedestals that I live with daily, but that is no problem, as I can't even see them. Within a couple years, this should be wireless.

On 60 Minutes tonight, you will see me both hooked up to the cables and free of them. My hair is long enough for a comb-over now so that the pedestals are hardly visible to other people.

orangejuice359 karma

  1. How was the learning process? I mean, how do you learn to do new things with the arm?
  2. What are the biggest problems or flaws of the arm? Basically, what needs to be improved?
  3. How often can you use Hector?
  4. Have you heard about exoskeletons that are being developed around the world? What are your thoughts on that?

Sorry for the amount of question. I'm a undergrad that wants to study Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience, so I'm very curious. Also, I'm really happy that you Have Hector. Hopefully soon those arm will the sold commercially and every quadriplegic will have one!

janscheuermann132 karma

  1. The learning process was much faster than you might imagine. The researchers had written programming to allow about 3 months for me to master three degrees of freedom. I achieved it in less than 3 weeks.

When I get a new task, I usually achieve it within a day or two. But mastering it -- making it quick and easy and natural to do with Hector -- may take several weeks. When I first started to pick up and move objects, it took about two minutes to pick up a cube and move it two feet across the table. Now, I can pick up and move most objects in under 10 seconds.

  1. The fingers of the arm break down too quickly -- if I jam them against the table, the whole hand stops working, and the finger has to be repositioned by the team. Occasionally, they have had to take a finger off, and I have operated a three-fingered hand for the rest of the day.

Also, a big flaw is that I cannot paste long, fake, red fingernails onto Hector -- because he is indeed the 6-million-dollar arm, the researchers have all these silly rules. Plus, Hector prefers pink shades.

  1. I go to the lab three days a week, and the sessions are about 4 hours.

  2. No, I have not heard about exoskeletons.

Thanks for the good wishes! Good luck with your studies. I'm glad to want to use your education to help people :)

WorthyAngel49 karma

Did you ask for this?

janscheuermann48 karma

Yes! As soon as I saw the video of Tim Hemmes doing this, I called and volunteered. Specifically, I think my exact words were "I'm a quadriplegic, and I want to do that!"

Yossarian041 karma

Will you be part of the next round of experiments (for example, the sensation/feedback work which seems to be the next step for this technology?

janscheuermann66 karma

Probably not. The next round will involve different types of implants. I have not been approached about having my own implants removed, only to have new ones inserted. I think that is an accomplishment for someone else to achieve.

DerekReinbold40 karma

Did any of your doctors say, "We can rebuild her..." as you were going under? Has humor helped you get through this?

Edit: thanks for the response!

janscheuermann138 karma

I think they waited til I was out to make their sarcastic comments, as they didn't want to scare me. Humor has been a great help in dealing with my illness and with this study. We laugh in the lab a lot. Two days after surgery, when the research team came to greet me in the hospital, I was wearing mouse ears, a mouse nose, and whiskers, and a mouse tail was hanging out from my wheelchair. I was their lab rat. They roared.

We were all laughing at Halloween time. Check this out!

MadeInDeutschland37 karma

  1. Was it hard at first?

For example you had to concentrate very hard and use your Jedi powers to move the arm.

  1. Do you take it off at night?

janscheuermann69 karma

At first, the arm didn't feel natural at all. Controlling it took a lot of concentration and effort. But within a couple weeks, I realized that thinking of it as my arm and trying to move it as I would my own arm made it work better, faster, and more smoothly. I don't think about controlling it anymore -- I just look at the target, and Hector moves there. I don't have to think "up, down, back, twist" -- I just envision what I want Hector to do, and he does it.

I am not attached to Hector. He is in the lab, and I visit him three times a week for sessions of about 4 hours.

MadeInDeutschland56 karma

Well you are already calling him by his name so I would say you are attached!

Just kidding. Thank you for doing this AMA and best of luck with Hector!

janscheuermann39 karma

Thanks! The study is still ongoing, so I hope you will read about future accomplishments.

Hoelt34 karma

Before my illness, I ran Deadly Affairs, a successful Murder Mystery Party business.

I have always wanted to have a murder mystery party. What kind of people make up your clientele? How much do these sorts of things run for? And what are the most common occasions people have those parties (birthday, wedding, fancy dinner)?

janscheuermann57 karma

I'm not doing it anymore, but Deadly Affairs in Pittsburgh is run by the people who bought my company, using adaptations of my original scripts. If you live in the area, you can PM me for their contact information.

My clients ranged from a bowling group to Fortune 500 companies doing this for their employees or clients. I did parties in a cave, a museum, on a golf course, in banquet rooms, and many many private homes. My parties started at $200 for 10 people and went up. I did many as fundraisers. Two months before I got married, I killed the priest who officiated our ceremony at a fundraiser for our church.

Atrick6931 karma

How do the sensors interact with your brain tissue? We're you briefed on the risks of such an operation?

janscheuermann43 karma

The sensors only go into my brain about two millimeters deep. I was briefed on risks. Because Tim Hemmes had had this type of surgery before me, and it was successful, I wasn't worried about the risks.

[deleted]24 karma

Thanks for doing an AMA! I'll definitely be watching you and Hector tonight.

janscheuermann38 karma

Thank you! I hope the camera got Hector's good side :)

watershot24 karma

Any chance to get an AMA with some of the researchers behind the technology?

janscheuermann24 karma

I will ask them.

zagrei24 karma

Wow, your story is really awesome! I've got two questions: what is the most awesome part of having a robotic arm, and what is the most annoying part?

janscheuermann47 karma

The most awesome part is I now have the power to do things that I haven't done for 10 years. it is equally awesome to know that I am helping a whole generation of handicapped people down the road.

The most annoying part is the daily training. But even that is hardly annoying. Almost every facet of being involved with this project is AWESOME.

DanGuevara23 karma


janscheuermann33 karma

I do not consciously think of the direction or how to twist the wrist. I just look at the target object, and move the arm towards it naturally.

BananaButtCheeks21 karma


janscheuermann115 karma

Hector has an emergency off switch, and there is one lab person at every session whose job is to be close enough to that switch to hit it the moment Hector goes haywire. It hasn't happened yet. And no one gets their neck close enough to Hector to be strangled. Hector has, however, bruised a few egos by beating people at rock paper scissors.

I can't wait to have Hector at home and use him to "accidentally" smack people upside the head, or pinch a man's butt and say "Whoops! Hector was out of control!"

I live in daily fear of Hector becoming sentient and gradually controlling me. Just in case it happens, though, I have already chosen my villain name: SuperQuad.

the_glitch16 karma

Can you get upgrades for it? Like add-ons? Like a shoehorn or missiles?

janscheuermann26 karma

Maybe in the future. I'll certainly put those two items on my wish list.

Deafbones16 karma

Does the arm react at all whilst you're sleeping?

janscheuermann32 karma

The arm is at a lab, and I sleep at home. It is not attached to me in any way. When they disconnect me from Hector at the lab, he remains motionless until the next time I am connected.

spacedboy15 karma


janscheuermann21 karma

I'd love to say i would travel with two weeks off and unlimited funds, but I would rather spend it with my large extended family and friends. I would fly my friends from around the country to me, and we would talk and laugh for hours. I relax by playing Scrabble and Rummikub online, with the help of my daily attendant. I listen to audio books occasionally.

MagicCreed15 karma

When you say concentrating on the arm, would it be the equivalent of moving an imaginary arm/wing/leg/etc. or more on the lines of mentally solving mathematical equations.

janscheuermann33 karma

It's like moving an imaginary limb. It is very natural, as I moved my own limbs for 36 years before illness overtook me.

BoundinX14 karma

Thanks for the AMA! I have a question about who these limbs are available for. I was thinking that someone who had previously had control of their limbs might find it easier to control Hector than, say, someone who was born without. Would you happen to know about that?

janscheuermann26 karma

I wouldn't know. I would think that someone who has never controlled a limb could learn, but it would be a much more arduous process.

wishiwasyou33311 karma

What would you like society to know about living as a quadriplegic? How has people's views of the disabled affected you? What would you change about the world around you?

janscheuermann22 karma

Society has largely learned about handicapped people in the last couple decades simply by living and working with them. So many wheelchair-dependent people are in the workforce now. They take public transportation, go to restaurants, go to malls, and are visible in their communities. Most people have learned that the disabled are not children to be condescended to. Most people talk to the disabled directly, not to an attendant. But I wish I could change the actions of the few that don't. I'd like them to know that we do not want pity. Recognize us for our abilities, just as you do anyone else.

I wouldn't change much about the world around me. I would tell parents who try to shush their children that it is natural for kids to be curious, that I am not at all offended by their stares, and that I look forward to chances to talk to kids, to show them how my strange wheelchair works, and to let them understand, through interacting with me, that I am just like other people, except my legs don't work.

The world is getting more and more accommodating with ramps at almost every building and curb cut-outs practically everywhere. I have always been able to ask just about any stranger for help if I am alone and need it, and no one has ever turned me down or couldn't be bothered. People are extremely nice and happy to help. People have approached me to ask if I need help. I appreciate all of these considerations so much, and I want the world to know how much a little act of kindness can mean. A person may forget in a minute what I continue to appreciate for days, months, sometimes years.

whydontyouwork9 karma

Hi, could you have two arms working at the same time? Also how deep are the implants/interfaces in your head? Can you take them out? :)

janscheuermann19 karma

Right now, there is only a right-arm Hector. There is no left arm. In coming months, I will train with two arms in virtual reality. The implants are only 2 millimeters deep. They are anchored to my skull, and can only be taken out surgically.

nonubiq9 karma

So far, what's been the most difficult thing you've done with Hector?

janscheuermann6 karma

Stacking cones is challenging. I have to not only pick one up, but lift it to the other side of the table, center it above another cone, and hold it still long enough to drop it. Often, holding it still is a challenge.

bokmann9 karma

Thank you for agreeing to this IAmA on reddit, and thank you for volunteering to be such a pioneer in this field. Here are my questions:

  • How much capability will your current implant give you? For instance, will you ever be able to 'upgrade' to touch feedback, or more dexterous control without additional surgery?
  • Can you control fingers individually, or do you expect to be able to?
  • how much control do you have over the 'force' of the hand? For instance, could you pick up an egg without cracking it?
  • How long will this implant last?
  • I would imagine it would be possible to use the implant to control things beyond this arm, for instance letting you move a mouse/type on a keyboard with no actual mouse or keyboard involved. Have you discussed any possibilities like that?

janscheuermann11 karma

We are currently testing the limits of Hector's capabilities. We have worked on two forms of sensory feedback. One is attaching pads to my fingers (I still have sensation in my limbs) that tingle my fingers as I grasp an object. The other is a tone which gets louder the harder I grasp an object. The tone has proven easier for me to work with. But right now, I do not have control of how hard I grasp.

I controlled the fingers individually December 19th for the first time. Further bulletins as events warrant.

If I picked up an egg, I would do more than crack it. I would smash it.

We will probably remove the implants mid 2013. If we left them in indefinitely, I have no idea how long they would last.

There are already technologies which allow handicapped people to control computers. I am not very familiar with how they work. Maybe someone else can help you with that.

I_make_things8 karma

Never give up, never surrender.

janscheuermann14 karma

To infinity and beyond!

scaru7 karma

When you say that it is either clenched or unclenched, does that mean it will crush something it picks up? Or does it not apply enough force to crush it?

Also I saw it in the video picking up a piece of piping, but it seemed to have trouble grabbing it. Is there a minimum size for what it has to be picked up? For example, could you pick up a key ring?

Either way great job! I am extremely impressed both with your dedication and the science behind it.

janscheuermann14 karma

It does not apply enough force to crush it. But Hector gives a firm handshake.

I have picked up a pencil, but not off a table. It has to be slightly raised for me to pick it up. The smallest object I have picked up is a cube that measures maybe 3/4 inch each side.