TODAY   |  October 15, 2013

Meet real bionic man: He’s 100 percent prosthetic parts

It took three years, but scientists have finally assembled a fully functioning bionic man made entirely of prosthetic limbs and parts already being used on humans.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back now at 7:40, we all remember that song. we have a remarkable project three years in the making. different artificial body parts combined to make the first bionic man.

>> we'll check him out in a second but first, how the bionic man came to be.

>> gentlemen, we can rebuild him. we have the technology.

>> reporter: move over steve austin . you've got competition.

>> the bionic man is a show case of how far bionic technology has come.

>> reporter: it's a nearly bionic man assembled from prosthetics and artificial parts already in real use in real people .

>> artificial heart , artificial bionic hand . artificial eyesight. implantable kidney. biotic skeleton.

>> reporter: 28 parts in all together for the first time. a swiss social psychologist hosts it. he has a bionic hand and a model of his face was used for the bionic man.

>> it made me freak out when i saw it for the first time.

>> reporter: there's still science left to go. mainly, the bionic man lacks a brain.

>> you still need a human in the center to make all of this work. so we're very far away .

>> reporter: but with a little help he's able to take a walk down broadway giving even new yorkers something they have never seen before. a little glimpse of the future. the first step toward better, stronger, faster. and he's with us now along with the first fully functional bionic man. nice to have you here.

>> good morning.

>> more than 1 million sensors, 200 processors, 70 circuit boards and 26 individual motors. why? why did you do this?

>> we wanted to find out how much of the human body we can replace already today. what if we got all the different spare parts that we already have today and put them together in one piece, what would it look like? well, it looks like this?

>> what can it do?

>> we can make him walk a step. shall we try.

>> sure.

>> let me pick up the external pump for his heart here a little bit and have him walk a step forward in his exoskeleton.

>> he makes me a little nervous when he starts leaning like that.

>> yeah.

>> think of this as the wheelchair of the future as a device that's supposed to restore the ability to walk.

>> artificial heart circulates artificial blood . it can walk as we have just seen. clearly to brain. so there's an artificial intelligence here. no, that was something we couldn't find a replacement so we went out to the internet to find the best software one can have a conversation with today but it's still very limited.

>> in other words you program a conversation.

>> well, with the software we used during the program you can have a free conversation without prescripting it. at least you're supposed to have that given that you accept the fact that you're supposed to talk to a 13-year-old boy from the ukraine.

>> you have a more personal connection to this device. if we notice here, you have a bionic hand as well. you were born without a right hand --

>> left hand .

>> left hand . excuse me. i'm turned around.

>> my model is the newer one. he is wearing last year's model and this is this year's model. it's come so far this technology. i would have never have imagined to have something like this. if you hold on to the mobile phone t built in pressure sensors in the hand understand the shape of the object that you're holding and adapt the grasp so it gives a completely natural grip of the object and well, there's a party trick, you can rotate 360 that's not useful in every day life but it shows that bionic limbs can make you do things that natural limbs cannot do raising all sorts of interesting questions.

>> ethical questions.

>> what happened ifs the technology evolves.

>> and the face of this man was modelled after your own face.

>> it was modelled after a 3-d scan of my face.

>> i didn't know that.

>> but you find it handsome don't you?

>> honestly, it still freaks me out quite a bit.

>> well, thank you so much for bringing him here. we really appreciate it.

>> thank you for having us.

>> thank you, bionic man, we're happy to have you here.

>> you can see more sunday night on the smithsonian channel.