Video game tailored for children with bionic arms

Games developed by UCF professors, students

By Clay LePard - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Video games are no longer just for those with two hands and lightning-fast thumbs.

Limbitless Solutions, along with professors and students at UCF, unveiled a new type of video game system that uses players' muscles to interact with games.

Alex Pring, 9, who was the first child to get a bionic arm from UCF students, experimented with one of the games, "Smash Bro."

"Alex has single handedly help write some of this Smash Bro game," assistant professor Matt Dombrowski said.

"You don't have to use your thumbs and get sore every single time," Pring said.

Sensors are placed on players' muscles as part of the game's controls.

"When they flex, we're actually using electromyography," explained Albert Manero, with Limbitless Solutions. "Just like the bionic arms work, the video game control reads the muscle flex on their bicep."

"You flex then the magic happens," Pring added.

The game also works as an opportunity for kids to acclimate to life with a bionic arm.

"It's a really unique way to learn without the frustration of wearing the bionic arm," Manero added. "So for a lot of kids, if they have a lot of frustration, they don't want to use it. And in this way, we shortcut the whole thing." 

"I think it opens up a whole new idea that a lot more people can use this type of game," added Alyson Pring, Alex's mother. "He loves video games."

Later this week, the game developers will travel to Washington D.C. to show off the games at the Smithsonian and with White House staff.

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