Third arm a cinch to operate, study suggests

Third arm a cinch to operate, study suggests

It only takes sixty minutes to become a superhero. Assuming your version has a third robotic arm, that is.

A new study from scientists at universities in London and Melbourne discovered that people could learn to operate an extra robotic arm in just one hour of training — about the same time it takes to learn to operate the arm with a partner.

Sometimes life forces us to perform certain tasks that require more than one set of hands. And sometimes, there is no one else around to help.

Enter scientists’ solution: a third, robotic arm. But they wondered how readily people could acclimate to using one.

Their proof-of-concept study put participants to the test to find out whether such an idea was feasible to pursue.

Scientists recruited 24 people who were tasked with performing a variety of tasks with an extra robotic arm. They either had 60 minutes of training on how to use the supernumerary arm or had the same amount of time to perform the tasks with a partner.

Their results indicated that the solo participants trained to operate the extra arm performed the tasks just as well as those who worked on the tasks with a partner — meaning that the robotic arm is effective in a way much like working with another person. And learning to use the arm can be done efficiently, in a relatively short amount of time.

Like most technological advancements that make superheroes out of mere mortals, expect it to be a pretty good while before they’re hitting stores near you.

But in the future, when you need a helping hand ¾ or arm ¾ you may have options that don’t require a friend to come to your rescue.

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