Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Disability

Scientists have used transplanted cells from disabled dogs' noses to restore their ability...

Scientists from the University of Cambridge’s Veterinary School, working with colleagues from the UK Medical Research Council’s Regenerative Medicine Centre, have got disabled dogs walking again. More specifically, they’ve used the dogs’ own cells to repair their spinal cord injuries, and at least partially restored the functionality of their back legs. The researchers believe that the process shows promise for use on physically challenged humans.  Read More

A prototype of the Rapid Rehab insole

People who have received an artificial leg, had a hip replacement, or who are recovering from a broken leg all want to avoid one thing – developing a limp. Not only will it limit their mobility and increase the risk of falls, but it can also lead to problems such as osteoarthritis. That’s why University of Utah mechanical engineer Prof. Stacy Bamberg is developing the Rapid Rehab system – it’s a “smart” insole paired to a smartphone app, designed to provide users with feedback on how they walk.  Read More

The research may point to new avenues in developing aids for the blind (Photo: Shutterstoc...

In an effort to enable blind people to navigate their surroundings more safely and effectively, researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science have drawn inspiration from an unexpected source: rat whiskers.  Read More

The handSteady is a cup with a rotatable handle, for people with motor difficulties

Chris Peacock may not have reinvented the wheel, but he’s definitely reinvented the cup. The British inventor has created handSteady, an ergonomic cup to help people with health conditions (such as tremor, joint pain and Parkinson’s disease) to have their drinks without undergoing a nerve-wracking, socially-awkward challenge.  Read More

Test subject Brian Shaffer uses the prototype exoskeleton

For people who are unable to walk under their own power, exoskeletons offer what is perhaps the next-best thing. Essentially “wearable robots,” the devices not only let their users stand, but they also move their legs for them, allowing them to walk. While groups such as Berkeley Bionics, NASA, Rex Bionics, and ReWalk are all working on systems, Nashville’s Vanderbilt University has just announced the development of its own exoskeleton. It is claimed to offer some important advantages over its competitors.  Read More

The prototype prosthetic finger

When South African craftsman Richard Van As lost most of the fingers from his right hand in an industrial accident, he decided to try and create a prosthetic finger to regain some of his lost mobility. In order to bring this about, Richard recruited the help of Washington State native Ivan Owen, after being impressed with the latter's mechanical hand prop which he had posted on YouTube. The result could be a boon to amputees everywhere.  Read More

In addition to offering the convenience of typing one-handed, Gauntlet could enable people...

The QWERTY computer keyboard has proved to be a versatile design over the years, and whether you’re typing on an iPhone screen, or the chiclet keys prevalent on modern laptops, the experience is largely the same. However, typical keyboards aren’t generally all that easy to use one-handed or while walking, for example. For those kind of situations you may be better served with a glove called Gauntlet, which features a built-in one handed keyboard.  Read More

Jamboxx is a harmonica-like breath-driven digital instrument that can be played and contro...

Digital wind controllers like the Morrison Digital Trumpet give players the power to go beyond mere instrument clones and make virtually any instrument or sound available to the musician. More recently, Ashanti's Beatjazz Hands combined breath, pressure and motion sensors to bring gestures into the equation and free him from the confines of a computer screen. The problem in using such systems for folks with limited cognitive abilities or physical disability is that they can't effectively be used hands-free. A skiing accident in the 1980s left Dave Whalen a quadriplegic, and his burning desire to continue making music has led to the development of Jamboxx, a harmonica-like digital instrument that can be played and controlled using just the head.  Read More

The Chiba Institute of Technology robotic wheelchair in action

Making a wheelchair that can deal with steps and other obstacles has puzzled engineers for decades, with everything from tank treads to spokes tried and found not quite practical. Now a team of engineers from the Chiba Institute of Technology, led by associate professor Shuro Nakajima, have applied a bit of lateral thinking. They have developed a robotic wheelchair that isn't sure what it is. Normally, it operates on wheels like a conventional wheelchair, but when it meets an obstacle, the wheels turn into legs.  Read More

OpenDyslexic features a weighted bottom, which is intended to lend 'gravity' to every lett...

Developer Abelardo Gonzalez has created an open-source font designed to help people with dyslexia read more easily. Dubbed OpenDyslexic, the font is currently available as a free download, in the form of a Safari and Chrome extension, a bookmarklet, and a free iOS web-browsing app. OpenDyslexic has also been incorporated into several third-party apps, including popular read-it-later service Instapaper.  Read More

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