Episode 91 Tech Talk- Phantom Limb

In May 2012, James Young’s life changed forever. He fell under a train in London, and when he woke up much later, he no longer had most of his left leg and arm.

Meanwhile,  Su-Yina Farmer, head of communications for Konami in Europe, was looking for a young gamer like him to help with a project called Phantom Limb. Konami was about to release Metal Gear Solid V, which features Big Boss and a highly technical prosthetic limb. Konami wanted to celebrate the release of this game with a project that gave back to the gaming community in a very tangible, personal way.

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When James applied to the ad for the project, he wasn’t really expecting to be chosen, but several months later he found himself sitting down with Sophie de Oliveira, one of the world’s best custom prosthetic limb sculptors. Working with carbon-fiber race car part maker Global Racing Technologies and robot-hand maker Open Bionics, James eventually had a one of a kind prosthetic arm.

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The Phantom Limb attaches to James with a network of harnesses, and has LEDs that can sync to his heartbeat. A small screen lets James check email or Twitter, and can control a small drone docked on his shoulder. He can even charge his cell phone with a USB dock in the hand.

The arm is activated by shoulder movements, and specific movement types can be selected by the onboard monitor. James’ state of the art Phantom Limb is a one of a kind $86,000 masterpiece.

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James still faces many challenges despite this amazing piece of hardware. The harness puts a lot of stress on his skin due to friction and the arm’s weight, and James is hoping to connect to his new arm directly someday by implanting a titanium post directly to his remaining arm bone. He has set up a gofundme page to help get the expensive surgery and recovery to implant the posts first in his leg, and then hopefully later for his arm as well.

You can read more about the Phantom Limb Project here, and James Young’s donation page for his implants is https://www.gofundme.com/titaniumjames