The force is with U

When Utahns saw the new “Star Wars – The Rise of Skywalker” in theaters its first two weeks, they got a glimpse of real-life technology involving the University of Utah that seems fitting for a galaxy far far away.

The LUKE Arm, a motorized prosthetic arm for amputees being worked on by biomedical engineers in the University of Utah’s College of Engineering, is the star of a new university-produced commercial that ran in Larry Miller-owned Megaplex Theatres showing”The Rise of Skywalker.” The commercial, which was created by the U’s marketing and communications team, was presented before each screening of the movie for the first two weeks it was playing. Click below to see the commercial.

The LUKE Arm was developed by DEKA Research & Development Corp., a New Hampshire-based company founded by Segway inventor Dean Kamen, and is manufactured and distributed by Mobius Bionics LLC. To give the prosthetic the ability to “feel,” a University of Utah team of biomedical engineers led by associate professor Gregory Clark has developed a way for the “LUKE Arm” (so named after the robotic hand that Luke Skywalker got in “The Empire Strikes Back”) to mimic the sensation of touching objects by sending the appropriate signals to the brain. Clark and doctoral student Jacob George star in the commercial in which they demonstrate the arm’s amazing technology. The fingers in the hand can also pick up objects with just the user’s thoughts. Their findings were published in a new paper co-authored by George, former doctoral student David Kluger, Clark and other colleagues, in the latest edition of the journal Science Robotics.

The project, which has received international recognition this year, was also profiled in a new article in the Washington Post which can be viewed here. (Online subscription required)