“It’s very easy to get intimidated,” says Hamayal Choudhry, the robotics engineer who co-created the smartARM, a robotic hand prosthetic that uses a camera to analyze and manipulate objects. “You have this idea for a project, then think, I don’t know a thing about this.” Here’s how Choudhry and his partner Samin Khan, who programmed the smartARM’s machine learning algorithm, used code libraries, college assignments, and sponsored hackathons to find and execute a meaningful project at age 20.

The smartARM works by integrating the two fields of machine learning and mechatronics (robotics). A camera in the palm detects objects, and an algorithm analyzes the video feed (this is called computer vision) and tells the robotic hand how to manipulate the objects.

The algorithm learns from each attempt, so the arm can be trained over time. To Choudhry and Khan’s knowledge, this is the first application of computer vision in a prosthetic hand.

Khan feels there should be more of a push for integrating hardware projects into machine learning. If two students—neither of whom had any experience with prosthetics before last year—can make so much progress in such an advanced field, then there’s still a lot of unlocked potential in these combined technologies.

By collaborating across fields, you’re much more likely to find new applications. It was a hackathon that gave Choudhry and Khan that push to collaborate. Read more from lifehacker.com…

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