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Bionic

Unlocking water fern's secrets could pave the way for more efficient ships

Ships are big polluters and one of the key reasons for this is the energy lost due to friction as they move through the water. Numerous innovations in marine paint technology have sought to address this issue and now a group of German material research scientists have unlocked a secret that could radically improve fuel consumption... and it's all down to the marvelous properties of one small plant.  Read More

Carbon nanotubes could be used to create a  bionic sense of touch (Photo: Mstroeck)

The human body is an amazingly complex bit of kit. Replicating it with bionic technology presents challenges on many fronts, including the formidable task of mimicking our sense of touch. This goal could now be a little closer thanks to a breakthrough in carbon nanotube processing by scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Borrowing from conventional methods of making glass fiber, the researchers managed to cram 19,600 individual carbon nanotube-containing channels into fibers just four times thicker than a human hair, putting the artificial structure on a scale similar to the tiny neural bundles that make up our nerve pathways.  Read More

Bionic vision - ironically, we only have low-resolution images.

Researchers at Bionic Vision Australia (BVA) have produced a prototype version of a bionic eye implant that could be ready to start restoring rudimentary vision to blind people as soon as 2013. The system consists of a pair of glasses with a camera built in, a processor that fits in your pocket, and an ocular implant that sits against the retina at the back of the eye and electronically stimulates the retinal neurons that send visual information to the brain. The resulting visual picture is blocky and low-res at this point, but the technology is bound to improve, and even in its current form it's going to be a major life-changer for those with no vision at all. And the future potential - even for sighted people - is fascinating.  Read More

Eric Jones shows off his ProDigits bionic fingers

The fact that the hand is such a debilitating body part to lose has spurred researchers to develop a functional and aesthetically pleasing bionic replacement. While seemingly not as severe as the loss of an entire hand, the loss of fingers can be just as much of a hindrance and represents the largest group of arm amputees. Short of removing the remaining partial hand, there has been no bionic option available to replace missing fingers. Now, the same company responsible for the i-LIMB Hand has addressed this deficit with the launch of ProDigits, the world’s first powered-bionic finger.  Read More

The SmartHand and its first human subject, Robin af Ekenstam

Scientists have successfully wired a state-of-the-art artificial hand to existing nerve endings in the stump of a severed arm. Its creators say the device, called “SmartHand,” resembles a real hand in function, sensitivity and appearance. In order to develop such an intelligent artificial prosthetic hand with all the basic features displayed by a real one, the SmartHand team integrated recent advances in nanobioscience, cognitive neuroscience and information technologies.  Read More

Images of electrochemically-deposited crystals from a scanning electron microscope

Six million dollars probably wouldn’t get you much of a bionic man these days, but a new process for coating metal implants could vastly improve the lives of the growing number of people who have undergone complicated total joint replacement surgeries. The new electrochemical process improves the implants’ functionality, longevity and integration into the body by producing a coating that is virtually indistinguishable from the body’s own material.  Read More

The space age looking AirPenguins

The latest example of biomimicry in robotics to cross our desk is from German electrical automation company Festo, which has used the shape of the acquatic, flightless bird to construct two different types of bionic penguins. The AquaPenguins use the bird's hydrodynamic body contours and wing propulsion to allow the robot to maneuver in cramped spaces, turn on the spot and, unlike their real-life counterparts, swim backwards. The larger helium-filled AirPenguins use the same principles to lift the usually flightless bird into the air.  Read More

Ossur's second generation POWER KNEE

Earlier this week we looked at developments in low-cost prosthetics, but at the other end of the spectrum, advanced prosthetic devices like Ossur's recently announced second generation POWER KNEE are opening up new frontiers in the field. As the world’s first motor-powered artificially intelligent prosthesis for above the knee amputees, the POWER KNEE is designed to enable daily activities without having to think about movement. Something most of us take for granted.  Read More

The Eyeborg Project: the prosthetic eye and camera

After years of wearing a patch to hide his disfigured right eye, damaged as a child in a shooting accident, Canadian filmmaker Rob Spence was forced eventually to replace the eye with a prosthetic one. The camera on Spence’s cell phone, though, gave him a rather novel idea. What if he could build a miniature, wireless video camera into his prosthetic eye? What followed has become the Eyeborg Project, the progress of which can be now followed online.  Read More

Bionic Eye - Argus II implant

For those suffering from degenerative eye diseases, abilities which most of us take for granted like following white lines on roads and sorting socks can have a huge impact on quality of life. "Bionic-eye" technologies that can artificially restore sight are creeping closer to reality and now one of the most promising systems to grace our pages - the Argus II Retinal Implant - is beginning to reap rewards in the real world with positive outcomes reported in the preliminary results of the device's feasibility study and personal stories beginning to emerge of the difference this technology can make to peoples lives.  Read More

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