A couple of days ago I attended The Extension of Man – Hacking the Body workshop at ThingTank, one of the new makerspaces here in Toronto. It was sold out at ~18 people plus instructors, so I’m lucky to have gotten in. They plan to repeat the workshop, since this first one was so successful.
Basically the workshop consisted of casting our fingers using alginate and wax (a friends thumb cast pictured, totally awesome!), then using medical gloves, electronic senses, and an arduino to add functionality to that model of our finger. Then once you’re done, you can transfer the gloves from the model to your real finger in order to experience “the extension of man”. The electronics and arduino stuff were not new to me, but judging by the reaction of the other people that part of the workshop was very well received in general. Personally I was blown away by the casting, and I plan to bring a casting workshop to hacklab, in order to expose more of my friends to the awesomeness. You can actually see my fingerprints in the cast of my finger, which is incredible! And creepy 🙂
The first 1.5 hours of the workshop were actually a theoretical portion, we had interesting talks from two different women on the subject of prosthetics, and I think they covered the material really well. I was pretty familiar with the concrete examples they gave (Stelarc, Amy Mullins, Oscar Pistorius, etc.), but I had no idea there was so much academic literature on the subject!
You can read a heavily footnoted/linked version of one of the talks online. I have also uploaded my photos of the evening: Extension of Man Workshop Flickr Gallery.