Fans watching the new “Star Wars” movie in nine Utah theaters will get to see some real-life wizardry from the University of Utah’s College of Engineering.
A 30-second commercial for the LUKE Arm, a motorized prosthetic arm for amputees co-developed by biomedical engineers at the U., will play before screenings of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” at the Megaplex Theatres chain.
The LUKE Arm is named after Luke Skywalker, the hero of the original “Star Wars” trilogy played by Mark Hamill. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” Luke loses a hand in a lightsaber duel with Darth Vader, and gets a robotic hand as a replacement.
The ad will run from the movie’s opening Friday through Jan. 2 at nine Megaplex locations: Cottonwood (Holladay), Gateway (downtown Salt Lake City), Geneva (Vineyard), The Junction (Ogden), Legacy Crossing (Centerville), Thanksgiving Point (Lehi), Valley Fair (West Valley City), Jordon Commons (Sandy) and The District (South Jordan).
In the ad, Gregory Clark, associate professor of biomedical engineering, and doctoral student Jacob George demonstrate the capabilities of the LUKE Arm, which was co-developed by Clark and his team. (Clark is wearing the lab coat; George is in Jedi gear.)
The arm mimics the way a human hand feels objects — in the ad, the hand differentiates between an egg and a lightsaber — by sending corresponding signals to the brain. The fingers in the hand can pick up objects, guided by the user’s thoughts.
A paper detailing the team’s findings — authored by George, former doctoral student David Kluger, Clark and others — was published in the July edition of the journal Science Robotics.