Virtual Reality: Towards the Bionic Future

The amazing prosthetics that are changing lives and shaping our future are still missing on a few important elements that could take us to a bionic future. Phantom limb phenomenon is still a huge issue for people with prosthetic limbs. VR tech has now created a new solution for people with bionic prostheses who have a hard time accepting their new limbs.

Even if the new artificial limb is highly sophisticated, your brain still needs help adjusting to it. A high-tech unit incorporating tactile sensing cannot guarantee that the amputee will start to think of it as a part of them. The feeling of a piece of hardware, attached to where a real body part should be, never goes away.

Part of the issue is that brain of amputees continues to perceive a limb that no longer exists. A cognitive disconnect between phantom limb and new limb is the typical result of introducing an artificial body part.

“Amputees still feel their missing limb even if it is physically gone, and this ghost limb, aka phantom limb, is perceived as much smaller than the lost limb.”

~ EPFL Spokesperson.

With virtual reality, it’s now possible to trick mind into accepting prosthetic limb as the real one. Nerve stimulation combined with VR goggles can help turn the phantom limb feeling into a real one. Eventually, helping amputees to embody their prosthetic limbs. This theory works on brain’s principle of regularly using its senses to asses what’s external to body and what belongs to it. This is where VR can induce embodiment of prosthetic hand and make people feel what they see, helping them grow their phantom limb into the prosthetic one.

Combining nerve stimulation with virtual reality can create new ways to control limbs with your mind. Once it’s done, it can open up the possibilities of a bionic future that could one day transform the human lifespan.