Artificial tail is coming back for humans
Researchers from Keio University in Japan have developed a tail for humans called Arque.
Biologically, the human tail disappeared as we evolved because we had no requirement for it. But, now researchers from Keio University in Japan have developed a tail for humans called Arque. The mechanical tail has been showcased at the 2019 SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles. The conference focuses on graphics, gaming, and emerging technology.
The prototype showcased at the conference functions like a real tail, helping in balancing the body of the bearer. It has been inspired by a seahorse's tail. Seahorses have a square-shaped tail as compared to cylindrical ones seen in other animals. This might be because the seahorse tails are mechanically superior in comparison with other tails.\
Arque is designed to fit all people. It is composed of multiple 'vertebrae' arranged sequentially to form the tail. The length of the tail can be decreased or increased by removing or adding these 'vertebrae'. Researchers suggest that small weights can be attached inside each ‘vertebrae’ to match the weight of the user.
Four muscles are presently distributed across the length of the tail. These muscles made up of air packets can expand or contract using an external pressurised air system. The air pressure system also helps in changing the movement of the tail.
A well-balanced tail can act as a counterbalance or will help humans in moving quickly and lifting heavy objects. In gaming, it can be used to throw the user off-balance to make the game more realistic. It can also be used as a support for labourers to carry a heavy load.
The tail can also replace canes used by elderly or physically challenged people. But, the concern lies in its acceptance in society.
One of the drawbacks of the tail is that it is not fully mobile and needs to be anchored to the system. This restricts its usage to a particular area.