Is there anything the Hacksmith can’t do? The YouTuber, also known as James Hobson, and his engineering crew have made a name for themselves brewing up real-life versions of sci-fi and superhero technology—everything from the Predator’s thermal-vision helmet to Thor’s hammer to Kylo Ren’s lightsaber.
Now they’re back with a new challenge. As Hobson explains at the beginning of the latest Hacksmith video, thanks to the success of their YouTube channel, the team can now take on projects that would have been purely pie-in-the-sky before. So they’ve decided to get cracking on a bionic arm from the video game Crysis.
In the game, characters wear exoskeletons that give them super strength thanks to something called CryFibril. That technology, as you may have guessed, is fictional; despite Crysis, released in 2007, being set in 2020, we haven’t yet invented super-powered Nanosuits.
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That said, there is a long history of engineers building artificial, pneumatic muscles. As the Hacksmith video lays out, pneumatic muscles can be better than the real thing, but they have some serious limitations, too. One is that human muscles contract way more than their artificial counterparts; from an engineering perspective, that bulge you get doing a bicep curl is a byproduct of a superior muscle.
In fact, bicep curls are a good test for a bionic arm, since they require a wide range of motion that’s tough to design. As the Hacksmith posse puts the finishing touches on their prototype, they arm wrestle, do curls, and generally try everything a human arm can do—reiterating just how well-adapted our bodies actually are. Check out the full video for a good engineering lesson, and to see their finished product.
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