Artificial augmentation of humans is the core flashpoint between the different factions in the sci-fi game Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, coming on August 23. But mechanically augmented humans aren’t science fiction anymore.
Robotics startup Open Bionics has created an artificial arm based on the augmented human character, Adam Jensen, in Deus Ex. It’s part of a bigger merchandising plan to bring the universe of Deus Ex to life. The prosthetic arm and hand operate via remote control, using Razer’s Stargazer camera and motion-tracking technology. Intel also helped. I used it myself, flexing my fingers and making a fist, and watched the machine mimic my own actions.
The cyberpunk tale of Deus Ex is part of a long-running series, and Mankind Divided is set in the year 2029. The title coming from Square Enix is the sequel to Deus Ex: Human Revolution, which came out in 2011. It continues the story of Jensen, a cybernetic human, about a time in the near future when humanity is torn apart by a war over mechanically augmenting human beings.
“Our friends kept telling us to make something with Open Bionics in real life,” said Sacha Ramtohul, community manager at Eidos Montreal, in an interview with GamesBeat. “We got together last year to start on it. Open Bionics is still working on the technology.”
Human Revolution was set in the year 2027, while Mankind Divided is set in 2029, two years after the “Aug Incident” which mechanically augmented humans lost control and attacked humans. Eidos Montreal, the studio making the game, began working a while ago with its partners to bring Deus Ex-inspired augmentations to life. They’re bridging the gap between fiction and reality with technologies such as 3D printing, scanning, bionics, and motion sensing, Ramtohul said.
The partners say they want to create affordable 3D-printed bionic hands that could work for people who need them. This “Augmented Future” initiative is eerily close the storyline of Deus Ex. Except it is happening even sooner than the original game creators predicted. In the game, the big year is 2027, but at 2016, we are even farther along than anticipated. Of course, in the game, those prosthetics give people superhuman abilities. But this “transhuman” project definitely a case of life imitating art.
The Razer “Stargazer” camera and a motion tracking technology will help to bring this bionic arm initiative to a virtual setting, allowing people to digitally ‘try on’ the arm at events, effectively enabling a real-time demonstration of how the arm would look and move if it they were actually using it,” said Razer cofounder and CEO Min-Liang Tan.in a statement. “We’re excited to contribute to this incredible partnership with the Razer Stargazer. As the world’s most advanced webcam, it is a precise hand tracking solution that allows everyone to experience first-hand the future of augmentations.”
The first arms are expected to debut in 2017, and they will be shown off at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, the big game trade show in Los Angeles next week. The Deus Ex team started working on the project in 2015 with Open Bionics. Open Bionics is based at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, the biggest robotics lab in Europe. The company’s arms tend to be cheaper than other bionic limbs because they are based on 3D-printed designs.
“Working with Deus Ex to reimagine the future of bionic prosthetics has been a fantastic creative process. It is has been made even better by seeing people wear the bionic arms and get so much enjoyment out of it. This collaboration goes to show how bright the future of bionics is. We feel lucky to have been able to work with the design team at Deus Ex. They’ve been incredibly generous with their time and ideas throughout this project. We’re excited to see this relationship continue to grow.”
Eidos Montreal is also creating a line of fashion that resembles that worn by Jensen and other characters in the Deus Ex Universe. And it has created a new comic book series that tells some of the back story that occurs just before the Mankind Divided story begins.