Kaylene Kau, a recent graduate of the University of Washington's Industrial Design Department, has created a prosthetic arm that functions like an octopus tentacle instead of a human hand, making it better for gripping objects than previous arm prostheses.
The user simply puts the tentacle in place, hits the switch, and it curls around whatever you might want to carry. The other switch unfurls the arm.
"The basic functions it does are holding things down, grasping and gripping," Kau says. "You can control the amount of curl it does, and it can curl around quite a few objects."
Kau, and others worry that single-armed people will balk at having a tentacle prosthesis because it's a bit freaky looking. That's a matter of taste, I guess, but it doesn't negate how exciting the invention is. Like South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius's hotly debated prosthetic blade leg (which, some argue, make him too fast to compete with Olympians), Kau has changed the template from prostheses that badly mimic the lost limb to something that, while inhuman looking, is more cheap to produce and efficient for the wearer.