The News Today
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10.22.20
Notation Station

This Guy Hacked His Prosthetic Arm to Control Musical Instruments

__Jon Christian__Filed Under: Enhanced Humans
Bertolt Meyer

Good Arm

Bertolt Meyer, a professor of psychology at the Chemnitz University of Technology, was born without a lower left arm.

Years ago, that might have been seen as an impediment to learning a musical instrument. But in a riveting new video, Meyer describes how he instead turned his prosthetic arm into a musical superpower — by controlling synthesizers with his mind.

Music Man

Meyers uses a high tech i-LIMB prosthetic arm that turns electrical signals from his muscles into dexterous wrist and finger movements.

Meyer is an avid DJ and electronic musician, though, and he found that the arm made it difficult to tweak the small dials on his synthesizers. That problem gave him an idea: Find a way to hack his prosthetic arm so that it could control audio equipment using, essentially, his thoughts.

SynLimb

To pull it off, he teamed up with the engineers at musical equipment studio KOMA Elektronik, who helped him fabricate an attachment that can replace the mechanical hand on his prostheses.

But instead of being designed to manipulate objects, the new attachment — he calls it the SynLimb — translates his neural signals into instructions for electronic instruments.

The whole video is worth a watch, but if you want to skip to the part where Meyer controls synthesizers using his brainpower, it starts around the 6:15 mark.