In most tasks that humans have to take on, two arms are sufficient. At other times, though, it would be quite useful to have a third or fourth arm to manipulate objects, a challenge which researchers at the InamiLaboratory at the Unversity of Tokyo aim to solve with MetaLimbs.
As shown in the video below, the team’s Doctor Octopus-like device could be customized to perform various actions, such as picking up a phone while typing, or even helping with soldering, something that many readers will be familiar with.
Instead of an exotic brain-machine interface or similar technique, MetaLimbs are cleverly controlled via a positional tracking system worn on the user’s legs.
Markers attached to the knees and feet generate arm movement, while a sock equipped with bend sensors enable a person to grasp things with the robotic fingers using their toes. There are even haptic sensors that provide force feedback to the feet whenever something is touched.
Although this configuration means that it’s more useful when sitting down, in some situations, like holding a drawing pad, it could be utilized while standing.