Science fiction often predicts advances in the real world with a fair bit of accuracy. Hard sci-fi authors, such as Arthur C. Clarke or Isaac Asimov, regularly featured in their stories ideas and technologies that have come to be commonplace in our everyday lives. Less often it is soft sci-fi that predicts these advances, though researchers at the University of Utah have name-checked one of the great science fiction/fantasy series of all time in their new invention: the LUKE arm.

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The LUKE arm is a prosthetic arm developed to return functionality and feeling to those who have lost their limbs. According to CNN, Keven Walgamott, and amputee, was able to use the bionic hand to manipulate and feel various objects. The LUKE arm is named for the prosthetic device Luke Skywalker obtains after his disastrous fight with Darth Vader in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

While the arm can replicate the functions of touch and feeling in the human brain, it's still not ready for general roll-out. The arm still requires an external battery, and is hooked up to a computer to assist with the processing requirements of the prosthetic.

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The next steps for researchers will be to figure out how to make the arm more portable, and to figure out if it can be installed on patients with larger amputations than Walgamott's. The hope is that the arm could be ready for patients to take home by 2020 or 2021.

Can lightsabers be far behind?

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