2015 Detroit NAIAS Auto Show

Disability

EPFL's soft-and-stretchy e-Dura implant (Photo: EPFL/Alain Herzog)

Three years ago, scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) reported success in getting rats with severed spinal cords to walk again. They did so by suspending the animals in a harness, then using implants to electrically stimulate neurons in their lower spinal cord. Although this ultimately resulted in the rats being able to run on their previously-paralyzed hind legs, the technology still wasn't practical for long-term use in humans. Thanks to new research conducted at EPFL, however, that may no longer be the case.  Read More

The new technology allowed test subject Leslie Baugh to simultaneously control a combinati...

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) have successfully tested bilateral shoulder-level prosthetics, allowing a test subject to perform complex tasks using both arms simultaneously. The tests indicate that the system is quick to learn, and it could one day drastically alter the lives of shoulder-level amputees.  Read More

Rocket Mobility's Tomahawk all-terrain wheelchair gives the mobility impaired a chance to ...

Whoever said that losing your mobility also meant giving up your independence? We've already seen that the adventurous wheelchair user or walking-impaired person can head off road with a six-wheeled electric all-terrain vehicle or a caterpillar-tracked micro EV drive train. Now there's another option: Rocket Mobility's Tomahawk all-terrain personal utility vehicle, which allows the wheelchair-bound to traverse up to 12 miles (19 km) cross country at a maximum speed of 6 mph (10 km/h).  Read More

Quadriplegic Jan Scheuermann gave the mind-controlled robotic arm a big thumbs up at the e...

In 2012, a quadriplegic woman managed to move a robotic arm, using only her thoughts, to a level of proficiency that allowed her to eat a chocolate bar using said arm. The University of Pittsburgh team behind the study didn't stop there, though. By improving the technology in the arm and working more closely with test subject Jan Scheuermann, they have since enabled her to replace the simple pincer grip of before with four new hand shapes – fingers spread, pinch, scoop, and thumb up – that allow for more complicated object manipulation.  Read More

Derby with his new 'legs'

Derby the dog faced a challenge right from Day One. Due to a congenital deformity, he was born with very small forelegs and no front paws. This resulted in his ending up in the care of Hillsborough, New Hampshire-based dog rescue group, Peace and Paws. Fortunately, he then proceeded into the foster home of Tara Anderson. She works for 3D printing company 3D Systems (3DS), and set about using her employer's technology to make him a set of prostheses. As a result, he's now able to run for the first time.  Read More

Specially adapted Nintendo Wii games as physiotherapy have led to 'significant' improvemen...

Paralysis or problems controlling movement are among the most common disabilities resulting from stroke and have a major impact on everyday life. Lancaster University researchers say seven out of 10 stroke survivors suffer from arm weakness as a result of their stroke, and only a fifth of these people ever regain the full use of their arm. A new study suggests the Nintendo Wii could provide an effective, economical and fun rehabilitation tool for stroke victims.  Read More

Intel has worked with Stephen Hawking for three years to create a new communications syste...

With exception of a new voice in 2004, Stephen Hawking's input interface has remained much the same for decades. Now Intel has created a new system called the Assistive Context Aware Toolkit (ACAT) that allows him to carry out tasks much faster than before.  Read More

The Carbon Black wheelchair is designed to offer a practical and aesthetically pleasing tr...

Since suffering a broken back at age 14, Andrew Slorance has imagined reinventing the wheelchair. Now, more than 30 years following his spinal injury, the broadcast journalist-turned entrepreneur is finally setting the wheels in motion. Slorance's Carbon Black is a sleek, minimalistic design aimed at giving wheelchair users an efficient and stylish new way of getting around.  Read More

Samsung's Eyecan+ is designed to allow users to perform simple computing tasks with only t...

Samsung has announced a new, updated version of its eye-tracking mouse. Known as Eyecan+, the technology uses a combination of hardware and software to allow people with disabilities to browse the web, as well as compose and edit documents.  Read More

Sesame aims to provide smartphone access to users with disabilities that prevent them from...

Sesame is a system designed specifically for users with only limited or no use of their hands. The device pairs head tracking software with some familiar hardware with the goal of bringing smartphone functionality to those who would otherwise be unable to make use of it.  Read More

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