PossessedHand controls hand with electrical stimuli

[Emi Tamaki], [Miyaki Takashi] and [Jun Rekimoto] at the University of Tokyo came up with a device called the PossessedHand that electrically stimulates muscles to train someone to play a the koto, a Japanese stringed instrument.

The PossessedHand ‘triggers’ individual fingers with precisely placed electrodes. Sixteen joints in the hand can be controlled independently by placing one electrode on the muscle that controls the joint and a ground electrode on the tendon of that muscle. Users of the PossessedHand reported no pain from the device when 30 Volts were sent though the electrodes.

The paper (PDF warning) goes into detail about the reactions of the users of the PossessedHand. While a few subjects thought the PossessedHand was scary, many enjoyed it – one subject even thought it was possible to fly a helicopter without training. While this isn’t downloading a rotary wing licence into your brain like The Matrix, the PossessedHand did prove to be a useful tool for learning the fingering for the koto. You can see a video of the PossessedHand in action in the New Scientist story.

[via New Scientist]


  1. Hackerspacer says:

    Totally serious question. What effect would this have on male or female genitals?

  2. slurm says:

    trigger individual fingers ?
    all it needs to do is grab “something” and then move up and down ;)

    this is a whole new approach to “the stranger’s hand”.

  3. Mad Scientist says:

    Hey lets make a remote controlled Stephen Hawking :)

  4. Hallian says:

    Now all we need is for someone to learn how to tap into the data running through you nerves and people with nerve damage can move again!

  5. t&p says:

    1 Sony
    2 this would not be pleasant! If anything it would feel like twitching. I hate twitching muscles!

  6. pipomolo42 says:

    Stick a few electrodes to the subject’s skull, as an input, and he could even control his hand using only his mind!

  7. You are awarded a cookie for managing to work a Matrix reference in.

  8. millers says:

    pipomolo42: im assuming that was meant as a joke, but got me thinking if something like that would be possible to assist in spinal injury’s? attach a device like this below the injury to stimulate things and control it with the mind…

  9. Stevie says:

    Wow, I feel like I’m reading theregister.co.uk

    They feature a story and then a couple days later it pops up here. This is the third time in like a week. I know there’s always going to be some natural overlap but the timing is funny.

  10. walter says:

    This is exciting, I can only imagine the potential this has for people suffering from paralysis.

  11. adam says:

    This reminds me of that scene from “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein”

  12. Shardvex says:

    Imagine a future civilization, in which a tyrant takes rule those who obey his evil commands he leaves alone, but all those who try to fight for liberty are arested, and have a computer installed on them that controls their every action!

    Cool technology, but if it ever goes out of hand (no pun intended), it will be pretty awful!

  13. Bob says:

    I give it 30 seconds before it is turned into a sex device. It would give a whole new meaning to “giving yourself a stranger.”

  14. poiso says:

  15. Chris says:

    These have already been turned into sex toys. The “Slightest Touch” is probably the tamest one, I’ll leave finding references to wilder ones up to the truly interested; as some are quite perverse and not intended strictly for pleasure. And then there’s electro-ejaculation, used on livestock to collect semen; which is designed only to be effective, not pleasurable in the least.

    I used to experiment with electronic muscle stimulation (for strength/aerobic training, not for the aforementioned uses). Started with a small commercial unit, then later built one that interfaces to a parallel port, allowing a program on the computer to control eight channels. Each channel was little more than a MOSFET driving a Radio Shack audio transformer. By pulsing the MOSFET, it would generate an isolated, higher-voltage bipolar pulse on the secondary. Amplitude could be controlled with pulse width.

    With that device, you could strap electrodes on some major muscles for a half-hour, and get a decent sweat-inducing workout while just sitting there, watching TV or on the computer; which is exactly what I did, many times.

    But although it’s not painful, it’s a very odd and distracting sensation that most people wouldn’t consider pleasant. And since there is no closed-loop feedback, it’s a fine line between the amount of current required to produce an insufficiently small twitch, and overstimulating a muscle to the point of cramping; which gets even finer the longer you maintain continuous stimulation.

    For that reason and others I gave up on it, and decided I’d rather just have a proper workout instead.

    And that’s probably why these have never caught on in the mainstream, though they will always be fascinating.

  16. Hackerspacer says:

    ErosTek, P.E.S. and others make these. My reading indicates they can be used internally to force an electric sex toy to essentially force the body to have sex with itself by involuntarily controlling the vagina or rectum. Rather interesting idea.

  17. Maave says:

    Now just grab some corpses and remote controls and you can have your own zombie army.

  18. Addidis says:

    rofl @ hackerspace

  19. Stevie says:

    It would be better as a voice-to-sign language tool for “speaking” to deaf people.

    Btw F*** HaD for not posting comments when personal blog urls are used in the website field.

  20. Monty Werthington says:

    Reminds me of an article on the BBC a few months back when a quadriplegic man started walking (all be it rather slowly) after a few days use of a similar device. it was applied to the spinal column and was suppose to trigger regeneration of the nerve tissue.

  21. DivePeak says:

    @Stevie – nice idea, however sign languages are natural languages in their own right, not just a different way of representing a spoken language. There is, for example, no one-to-one correspondence between the grammar and words of ASL and English. Sign languages develop and grow independently of spoken languages, and there are even distinct dialects within sign languages. That doesn’t mean it isn’t doable, but it would require significant natural language processing as there is with translations between say English and French, and all the same issues of changes in what the correct word is based on the context.

  22. JJ says:

    @Stevie I’ve never had a prob posting comments with my blog URL in the website field.. ?

  23. george says:

    i think this technology can be used with the military combined with an enemy detection system camera or sumtin it would be able to pull the trigger faster than any of the best marksman.. lol like a triggerbot from counterstrike.

  24. Great post

  25. Lord Boofhead says:

    Cyberpunk 2020 wired nerves anyone?

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