MetaLimbs is the Extra Arms We've All Been Wishing For

We’ve all wished for it sometime in our lives. The idea of having extra limbs just to get that double bag of groceries through the locked back door is a convenience that we’d all love to try.

Guess what? Technology has yet again answered our prayers, with this nifty new gadget concept from Japan.

Extra Arms for No Extra Work

MetaLimbs, as the project is called, is designed as a pair of fully functional robotic arms and hands. The prototype shown in the demo video was the product of Keio University and the University of Tokyo’s collaborative work on the project. Easily worn by strapping it on a backpack, the arms work, feel and move just like an extra pair of upper limbs. Well, maybe not as dexterous, but it gives an adequate level of efficiency that it can almost function like your arms and hands.

The concept is quite innovative, but its basic design and mode of operation (as a robotic limb) are plainly simple. In fact, the controls are also just as easy and intuitive. The hands are directly controlled by your feet. No computer-brain interfaces, and no complex muscle twitch detection algorithms. Just move your toes, and the robotic fingers respond accordingly.

With a haptic feedback system, grasp and finger articulation are also achieved, as demonstrated by how it can even be used to handle potentially dangerous tools, such as soldering irons.

Multi-Tasking At a New Level

Credit via InamiLaboratory

Simply by watching the demonstration video, we’re pretty sure that everyone already has a lot of ideas for using MetaLimbs. After all, it does kind of look like the dream tool of any physical multi-tasker. If there’s anything that Goro taught us, is that four arms will always be handy (pun intended) in many more situations.

More importantly, however, is that MetaLimbs can be potentially used in more professional environments. Though it is mainly designed for seated use, the extra robotic arms could, for instance, assist in firmly holding materials in place on rougher locations, while the real arms do all the more dexterous chores. This multi-tasking potential becomes even more prominent, as the research also points out that attachments can be used to further add function.

Interested people who might want a piece of MetaLimbs’ multi-tasking action are out of luck, at least for now. Since it is mainly a research project, there are currently no plans to commercialize the idea. So yes, that double extra mug holder would still have to wait for quite a long while.

Source: Keio University, The University of Tokyo

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