If you've ever needed an extra pair of hands, researchers in Tokyo, Japan might be able to help. Jane Ross reports.
VIDEO SHOWS: PEOPLE USING METALIMBS ROBOTIC ARMS, SCIENTIST EXPLAINING HOW METALIMBS WORKS, EXCERPTS FROM METALIMBS PROMOTIONAL VIDEO If you've ever felt like you needed an extra pair of hands, researchers in Japan might just have the answer. "MetaLimbs" are a set of wearable robotic arms controlled by sensors attached to the feet. Scientists from the University of Tokyo and Keio University showed off the prototype for their project at an emerging technology showcase in Los Angeles. (SOUNDBITE) (English) YAMEN SARAIJI, PHD STUDENT OF MEDIA DESIGN AT KEIO UNIVERSITY IN TOKYO, JAPAN, SAYING: "We have a set of trackers attached to each foot and it measures the position, orientation as well as the toes' motion. So when the user moves his limb, his feet, the limbs, the robotic limbs will be moving echoing the same motion. Of course we can finely tune so it doesn't have to be one-to-one, it can be nonlinear. Plus, like, he can grip objects by moving his toes." The robotic arm system, which is worn like a backpack, also recreates the sense of touch in the robotic hands using haptic feedback. (SOUNDBITE) (English) YAMEN SARAIJI, PHD STUDENT OF MEDIA DESIGN AT KEIO UNIVERSITY IN TOKYO, JAPAN, SAYING: "If the limbs touch an object, we have a sensor attached to the palm of the hand as well as to the thumb. So when he grabs an object, he can feel the feedback back on his feet." (SOUNDBITE) (English) JISU KIM, SIGGRAPH CONFERENCE ATTENDEE, SAYING: "I think it was great, actually. You could feel the, kind of, sense when you touch with the robot arm and you can feel it on the foot too. So it was quite a great experience." The MetaLimbs technology is still in the proof-of-concept phase, but researchers hope it won't be too long before you can get your hands on an extra set of arms.