The Force is with U: Turning Luke Skywalker’s Bionic Arm from Sci-Fi Dream to Real-World Impact

Jacob A. George, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Electrical & Computer Engineering; Assistant Professor, Dept. of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation; Director, Utah Neurorobotics Lab; University of Utah

Friday, April 5th at 11:45 am

In-Person in SMBB 2650

Dr. Jacob A. George is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering and the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Utah. He is the director of the Utah NeuroRobotics Lab and a foundational researcher in the Craig H. Neilsen Rehabilitation Hospital. Dr. George received his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and a Certificate in Computational Science and Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 2016. He then received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Utah in 2018 and 2020, respectively. Notable accomplishments include: NSF Graduate Fellowship, NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship, CCTS Outstanding Postdoc Award, Ripple Neuro Promising Young Investigator Finalist, ECE Rising Star Award, ECE Teaching Award, Meta Distinguished Faculty Award, Utah “Innovator of the Year” Award, NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, and Forbes 30 Under 30.

Abstract: In 2019, Dr. George and fellow researchers at the U made waves with the “LUKE Arm” (named after the robotic hand given to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back), a prosthetic arm that has the ability to feel objects by transmitting the appropriate signals to the brain. Not only can the arm feel, but it can be controlled by the user’s thoughts. In this lecture, George will highlight this technology and the advances that have taken place since their breakthrough technology was first announced – including translation into bionic exoskeletons to aid individuals with paralysis and into smartwatches to allow anyone to seamlessly control smart devices and augmented reality by thought.