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Bionic

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

The Bionic Hand takes shape

December 4, 2005 The popular television series The Bionic Man was probably the first inkling most of us had that one day man would be enhanced by machinery to better-than-new condition. The promise has been a long time in coming, but medical scientists across the world are advancing towards the implementation of bionic limbs. In July we reported on the work of Brazilian doctor Miguel Nicolelis, and now the CYBERHAND Project, which involves collaboration between six tertiary institutions across four countries (Spain, Germany, Italy and Denmark) has finally produced a bionic hand. The project team led by Paolo Dario with Professor Maria Chiara Carrozza leading the development of the hand, has been working on re-creating the natural link which exists between the hand and the Central Nervous System (CNS) and if all goes according to plan, the first of these bionic hands will be implanted inside a real human arm within two years.  Read More

Wanted: problems requiring technological solutions

November 30, 2005 A new Channel 4 (UK) television reality show will soon be taking on some of life’s most persistent irritations by employing some ingenious engineering and science to help members of the public. “Men in White” involves three maverick PHD students who will tackle these challenges by building gadgets and inventions to solve the public's dilemmas, aiming to make science, technology and engineering more accessible to the general viewing public but most of all to make it cool! The age-old issue of unwanted parking tickets and car clamping is one of the problems that the Men in White have already started on, and some others under consideration include a silent hairdryer, a prosthetic limb that can power a phone or ipod charger and a personal airbag for a novice snowboarder. There’s even the suggestion of building a handy gadget to tell you when your girlfriend has PMT!So here’s your big chance – the show is seeking ideas for gadgets. Read on for details on how to get involved.  Read More

The Bionic Car project

June 9, 2005 Bionics, the combination of biology and technology is a recent field of research which has nonetheless already made remarkable progress possible in different areas. Nature has provided ideas for high-strength materials, dirt-repellent coatings and even Velcro fastenings and this has lead to an interdisciplinary project combining biologists and engineers the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center (MTC) to develop the Mercedes-Benz bionic car - a concept vehicle based on examples in nature. Engineers looked for specific example in nature whose shape and structure approximated to their ideas for an aerodynamic, safe, spacious and environmentally compatible car. Using these examples, the team designed and constructed a vehicle with intelligent lightweight construction and extraordinary aerodynamics.  Read More

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