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Bionic

Bionic arm uses elephant’s trunk as a design model

July 4, 2007 The more we learn about intelligent design, the more we understand the engenuity of nature, and the latest lesson in this regard has come during the development of a bionic robot arm by German researchers. The technology is expected to be used in therapy to restore the use of injured limbs, and low-cost, flexible prosthetic devices. Such devices could be commercially available within two years.  Read More

The first commercially available Brain Computer Interface

The evolution of the Computer Human interface may seem to be rooted in the infernal keyboard and its recent travelling companion, the mouse, but much work is being done in the areas of virtual worlds, voice recognition, handwriting recognition and gesture recognition to give us a new paradigm of computing. It now appears we are on the edge of another brave new virtual world – the direct interface between the brain and the computer is here. One of the Holy Grail’s of research, there are many such projects going on around the world at present. Now the German g.tec (Guger Technologies) group has taken the technology out of the lab and into the real world with a complete BCI kit, and amazingly, there’s also a kit for a pocket PC - a super-low-weight biosignal recording system “g.MOBIlab” is used to measure the EEG and the data processing, analysis and pattern recognition are performed on a commercially available Pocket PC or in this case, your windows PC. The first BCI system will enable the composition and sending of messages, and control of a computer game. There’s also an invasive (implanted) option still being trialled in the laboratory – this is significantly more effective abnd the system can already accept and process input from both the embedded array and the cap array. Though the first work in the area is focussed on enabling paralysed humans to communicate far more freely, the potential to enhance one’s communications quite freely is clearly not that far away. There’s also the potential unlocked by putting such a device into the hands of thousands of eager and capable amateurs who will no doubt broaden the understanding of the human mind with their pursuits. The BCI system is nominated for the 2007 European ICT Grand Prize.  Read More

The Bionic Eye approaches: the next generation of Retinal Implants

February 19, 2007 Patients who have gone blind are a step closer to perhaps one day regaining some of their sight with the news that the United States FDA has approved a study to evaluate an artificial retina. Researchers at the USC Doheny Eye Institute are developing the technology that hopefully will help patients with retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration regain some vision using an implanted artificial retina. The announcement by Mark Humayun, professor of ophthalmology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and associate director of research at the Doheny Retina Institute, came at a press conference at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco.  Read More

Pet prosthesis - Dolphin recovers swimming ability with artificial fin

Bridgestone has developed a rubber fin for a dolphin that lost most of its tail fin to disease. The beneficiary of the technology is Fuji, a 235-kilogram 2.7 metre female at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium. Fuji has regained nearly all of her swimming ability since receiving the new fin in what is believed to be the first-ever successful development of an artificial fin for a dolphin. Fuji has been in the Aquarium for 28 years, and the oldest of her three offspring, Ryu, 26 years of age, is the Japanese record holder for dolphin lifespan completely under human care. Fuji contracted the disease that caused progressive deterioration of her tail fin from the edge in October 2002. Amputating most of the fin saved Fuji’s life but left her unable to swim well. Volunteers at Bridgestone went to work on the rubber fin for Fuji in December 2002 and the company subsequently assembled a project team to tap the full range of Bridgestone’s rubber technology. The team delivered its first prototype in September 2003 and followed up with a second prototype the next month. A few years down the track and Fuji is fully recovered - that's her getting airborne, complete with her artificial fin.  Read More

The 2007 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize

February 15, 2007 If there’s an absolutely golden imprimatur for the person-most-likely-to-succeed, it’s the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. Jerome H. Lemelson, one of the world's most prolific inventors, and his wife Dorothy founded the Lemelson-MIT Program funded via his own private philanthropic Lemelson Foundation, the Student Prize recognizes outstanding inventors, encourages sustainable new solutions to real-world problems, and enables and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention. Given that MIT attracts the very brightest students to begin with, the winner is usually a stellar high achiever and this year’s winner is already that. 2007 winner Nathan Ball's inventions include the Atlas Rope Ascender (see separate story) and a needle-free injection technology that will enable greater efficiencies in mass inoculations, both capable of saving many lives and both with many commercial applications. Last year’s winner Carl Dietrich is the CEO and CTO of his own flying car company Terrafugia. We’ve also written about Saul Griffith, the 2004 winner. All the winners and their exploits in this article.  Read More

The Intellidrug tooth implant

February 2, 2007 Man has been producing and administering drugs since the neolithic period. Initially these drugs were administered orally mixed with a liquid with the advent of pills making inhalation and the intramuscular or intravenous injection following. These days, the majority of the world’s drugs are administered via pills – pills offer an accurate dosage, but they are so convenient that it’s often possible to forget when you’ve taken them. Chronically ill patients get muddled when constantly having to swallow different numbers of tablets at different times, while those with dementia simply cannot cope. Now EU researchers are developing a better, more accurate and more convenient way – a dental prosthesis capable of releasing accurate dosages into the mucous membranes in the mouth. As it can administer accurate micro amounts over continuous periods, the prosthesis overcomes the peak concentrations that occur with taking pills and even offers the ability to monitor and maintain consistent blood levels of any drug. What makes the Intellidrug prosthesis unique is that, unlike existing drug prostheses and implants, it is small enough to fit into two artificial molars. Inside the patient’s mouth, it is readily accessible and can easily be maintained and refilled.  Read More

Mobile X-ray unit capture the knee in motion

October 3, 2006 Walking is a dynamic process, so it might come as a shock to realise that up to now the function of artificial knee joints has been analysed using static images of extended and bent knees. However, these were scarcely able to explain why certain patients’ prostheses were painful again and again. This is a big problem, because about one million artificial knees are implanted each year, 40,000 of them in Switzerland. The situation led researchers at the Institute for Biomechanics to analyse the problem in more detail and a mobile X-ray unit was developed that allows the knee to be x-rayed during normal walking. The purpose of the equipment is to help understand how an implanted artificial knee joint behaves during the everyday movement of walking.  Read More

First Bionic Arm fitted to a female patient

September 15, 2006 The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), demonstrated its remarkable engineering and rehabilitation science know-how earlier this week by introducing Claudia Mitchell, the first woman to be successfully fitted with RIC’s Bionic Arm technology. The most advanced prosthesis of its kind, the RIC neuro-controlled Bionic Arm allows an amputee to move his or her prosthetic arm as if it is a real limb simply by thinking. The arm also empowers patients with more natural movement, greater range of motion and restores lost function. Using key learnings from the first successful Bionic Arm recipient, former power lineman and double amputee from Tennessee, Jesse Sullivan, RIC’s Bionic Arm initiative leader Dr. Kuiken and his team also have made significant advancements in the area of sensory feedback so that the patient can actually feel if they are touching hot or cold objects. We have excellent pictures and copies of Dr. Kuiken’s presentation to the media available in the image gallery. That's Claudia at top right in the main pic, the bionic arm bottom right, the nerve ending connections at top left and Dr. Kuiken and the first Bionic Man, Jesse Sullivan at bottom left.  Read More

LandWalker 3.4 metre exoskeleton hits the market

August 4, 2006 Last year we reported on the world's first 340cm bipedal exoskeleton, the extraordinary Land Walker. The Sakakibara-Kikai Land Walker weighs 1000kg and shuffles along at 1.5kmh. Now Japan Times (via BornRich) is reporting that the Land Walker is on the market and selling made-to-order for 36 million yen (US$312,000). There’s a great video available here. Lots more detail in the original story.  Read More

Artificial limbs that walk naturally

March 2, 2006 German scientists have developed a new type of prosthetic foot that imitates the natural walking motion so convincingly that you have to take a second look to realize its user is wearing a prosthesis. The foot is purely mechanical and entirely without elaborate electronics.  Read More

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