60 Minutes produces a worthwhile segment on the DEKA Arm.

The DEKA arm being a prototype for a prosthetic that’s just… impressive:

When Americans are wounded in Afghanistan or Iraq, no expense is spared to save their lives. But once they’re home, if they have suffered an amputation of their arm, they usually end up wearing an artificial limb that hasn’t changed much since World War II.

In all the wonders of modern medicine, building a robotic arm with a fully functioning hand has not been remotely possible.

But as 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley reports, that is starting to change. One remarkable leap in technology is called the DEKA arm and it’s just one of the breakthroughs in a $100 million Pentagon program called “Revolutionizing Prosthetics.”

And this is just the first step; the next is wiring up these things to a patient’s nervous system, or at least coming up with a way for the prosthetic to detect impulses from a patient’s nervous system. Read/watch the whole thing: it’s both engrossing and very, very cool.