The AMO Arm! A New Brain-Controlled Prosthetic Arm!

May 17, 2011
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Two Canadian students at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada have invented a new type of brain-controlled prosthetic arm that picks up mental commands through a head-set worn by the user, and wirelessly transmits the command for movement from the user’s brain to the prosthetic arm and hand.

The students entered their invention in a 2011 Canadian national engineering completion where it won first prize. They subsequently applied for several patents on their inventions and have created a company, “Bionik Laboratories” in Ontario, Canada for further improvements and commercial distribution of the AMO Arm as well as other inventions.

The AMO Arm user can simply think of a movement which is transmitted wirelessly to the arm, which carries out the action. For example, if the user thinks “up”, the message is transmitted wirelessly to a small computer that compares the “up” signal to a database of potential movements. When there is a match the computer sends the brain-controlled prosthetic arm the command to move “up”, and the arm – using power from a small refillable tank that fits in the user’s pocket- responds to the command.

After only 10 minutes of practice the average pilot user was able to move the arm up, down, left, right and open and close the prosthetic hand. The engineering students, Thiago Caires and Michal Prywata are not satisfied with their initial arm. They plan to design a mechanism to move the fingers separately, and allow for the AMO Arm to sense the difference between materials (such as a key or an egg) so that the amount of pressure applied will be appropriate to each material.

You can learn more about the students and the AMO Arm on the Orthotics and Prosthetics website, and on the Ryerson University website at

Author: Tanya