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Get armed with brain power

An amazing invention which can tap signals from the brain has been unveiled recently in Canada… and soon Indian students could be working on it

education Updated: Aug 17, 2011 10:12 IST
Ayesha Banerjee
Ayesha Banerjee
Hindustan Times

You’ve lost an arm in a car crash and want to desperately get back to living the normal life. You go to a lab where they fit you with a prosthetic arm – without surgery – and ask you to ‘think’ about moving it. You do the needful and gasp in amazement. Your arm obeys your brain and goes up.

Two young biomedical engineering students at Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ) in Toronto, Canada, Thiago Caires, 22, and Michal Prywata, 19, have come up with this brilliant device, an Artificial Muscle-Operated (AMO) Arm. Fitted with lithium-ion batteries, it is connected to a headset, which picks up the signals which the brain would have emitted to the lost arm. The artificial muscles in the pneumatic arm are then pulled by a small air compressor to carry out the command from the brain.

In an interview to the Global News Channel in Toronto, Caires and Prywata have said, “You bypass a lot of approvals because it’s not really a medical device.” It’s the same as a cellphone, capturing signals from the brain instead of waves from a tower.

“It’s a project that developed into a full company. The students (now in the US) have filed for patents,” says Dr Sheldon Levy, president of Ryerson University, who is visiting India to announce the launching of a R5.95lakh (each) fellowship for bright Indian sparks who want to do research work in DMZ.

The university helps its students with patenting, legal advice, financing, networking with potential partners in the industry, etc. “We want the kids to not just graduate with a degree, but with a business as well,” says Levy.

And how has the India trip been? “Amazing. I met this brilliant student in IIT-Madras and I wanted to pack him up in a suitcase and take him home. India has the talent,” says Levy.

Calling young Indian innovators
The Ryerson DMZ Fellowship programme is offering six fellowships, valued at approximately R595,000 each ($12,500 CDN), supporting the students for a four-month term in Toronto with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation in the digital economy

Students selected will be a part of Ryerson’s hub for student digital entrepreneurs, the Digital Media Zone (DMZ)
Opened in April 2010, the DMZ is a multidisciplinary workspace for young entrepreneurs infused with the energy and resources of downtown Toronto. This hub of digital media innovation, collaboration and commercialisation is home to both entrepreneurial startups and industry solution-providers.

With access to overhead and business services, students and alumni can fast-track their product launches at the DMZ.

For more information, visit

First Published: Aug 16, 2011 10:52 IST