Bluetooth legs help soldier amputee walk

This man's bionic legs are controlled via Bluetooth

A US Marine who lost both his legs above the knee when his vehicle was hit by a bomb in Iraq, is walking again thanks to Bluetooth-equipped legs. CNN has the video.

With 32 pins and a giant screw holding his hips and pelvis together, Lance Corporal Joshua Bleill was deemed the ideal candidate to become only the second man in America to be fitted with the prototype prosthetic limbs.

Bluetooth amputee

Bluetooth chips at the base of each prosthetic leg enable each one to co-ordinate with the other, helping Bleill walk naturally in a straight line. Bluetooth is more commonly found in mobile phones and other gadgets, for use with wireless headsets and for swapping files and photos.

"They're the power knees. They're the latest and greatest. And how they work is they're actually motorised," Bleill told CNN.

"They were designed for unilaterals [single leg amputees]. So there's a Bluetooth bracelet on both ankles and they were made to read off a good leg. So it would mimic the movement of the good leg. With ours, they try to mimic each other.

"As we walk, everything is initiated by our muscle movement. I start walking and my thigh will bring the leg up. And it starts slowly, after one or two steps it recognises that they're starting to walk and so these legs start walking on their own. And then they mimic each other, so for stride length and for the amount of force coming up. For going uphill, downhill and such. They can vary speed, and then to stop them again I will apply resistance with my own thigh muscles to slow them down."

Bionic man

This technology is the latest step for scientists and robotic engineers to create prosthetic limbs that can be used as freely as real, organic ones. This kind of technology made its debut during the Star Wars-led science fiction craze in the seventies.

But like many things dreamed up in the world of televised fiction, the technology is starting to become a reality.

James Rivington

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