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Wearable artificial spine plays music

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    Performer Soula Trougakos uses a 3D-printed prosthetic spine to make music while she dances. (Vanessa Yaremchuk/IDMIL)

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    Performers Marjolaine Lambert and Sophie Breton dance and play music using 3D-printed prosthetic ribs. (Michael Slobodian/IDMIL)

Prosthetic limbs have been used to help people regain the ability to walk again. Now, researchers at McGill University in Canada have developed 3D-printed prostheses with another idea in mind; they used a 3D printer to create "prosthetic digital instruments" that play music.

Joseph Malloch and Ian Hattwick under the supervision of Input Devices and Music Interaction Lab (IDMIL) began sketches for the prostheses three years ago. Their goal was to utilize advanced sensing technologies to develop instruments that were visually striking but rugged enough to be used in dance performances.

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"We wanted to create objects that were beautiful, that were functional and that were believable as both instrument and as an extension of the performer's body," one of the creators said in a short documentary found below.

The prosthetic limbs are powered by sensors and wireless data transceivers and activate upon touch. As the dancers perform and move their bodies or touch the limbs, music is played.