Paralyzed Man Drinks Beer with Help of Mind-Reading Robot

Thanks to science, a paralyzed man was recently able to lift a beer—with his brain.

Image via YouTube

Erik Sorto has been paralyzed for more than a decade. A while back, the 34-year-old decided to allow a group of neuroprosthetics, or neural prosthetic devices, to be implanted in his brain. His first goal was to be able to drink a beer on his own. After thirteen years, with the help of a mind-controlled robotic limb, he’s finally achieved it.

Neuroprosthetics work like wires, connecting impaired brains to functional computers. Similar technology recently enabled a paralyzed woman to pick up a cup of coffee. But while neuroprosthetics have been around for years, Caltech’s latest innovation is a huge leap forward. Most robotic limbs target the region of the brain that controls muscles, often causing delayed or clunky movements. Caltech’s technology instead focuses on the part of our brain that specializes in intention. The goal was to make movement smoother and faster. It worked.

In order to lift his beer can, Sorto had to first hone in on his desire to drink the beer, before visualizing himself moving his arms like a windmill. It wasn’t easy, but with a bit of good old-fashioned (and scientifically proven) grit, he did it, and has big plans to keep working with the technology. Here’s a video of the unbelievable science that made one man’s beer-drinking dreams possible.