134 posts tagged cyborg
We Will End Disability by Becoming Cyborgs
Neural interfaces and prosthetics will do away with biology’s failings
Hugh Herr is a living exemplar of the maxim that the best way to predict the future is to invent it. At the age of 17, Herr was already an accomplished mountaineer, but during an ice-climbing expedition he lost his way in a blizzard and was stranded on a mountainside for three days. By the time rescuers found him, both of his legs were doomed by frostbite and had to be amputated below the knee. Once his scars healed, Herr spent months in rehab rooms trying out prosthetic legs, but he found them unacceptable: How could he climb with such clunky things? Surely, he thought, medical technologists could build replacement parts that wouldn’t slow him down.Today, three decades after his accident, Herr walks on bionic limbs of his own creation. As director of the biomechatronics group at the MIT Media Lab, Herr developed advanced prosthetics that he uses to walk, run, and even rock climb. And now, as he works with his colleagues to establish MIT’s new Center for Extreme Bionics, Herr is setting out not just to reinvent himself but the whole of society. “Fifty years out, I think we will have largely eliminated disability,” he declares, adding that he’s referring not just to physical disabilities but to many emotional and intellectual infirmities as well. (via We Will End Disability by Becoming Cyborgs - IEEE Spectrum)
The Chance To Dance Again
by Michael Keller
We highlighted the TED talk of Hugh Herr a couple of weeks ago. But his work is too important and beautiful to leave to just one post.
The MIT associate professor of media arts and sciences is making prosthetic limbs and exoskeletons that restore function in those who have lost legs from injury or disease. This set of gifs focuses on his team’s BiOM powered ankle and foot prosthesis.
"Bionics is not only about making people stronger and faster," he said during the talk. "Our expression, our humanity can be embedded into electromechanics."
To prove his point, Herr and fellow researchers studied dance movement to replace the lower leg that professional dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis lost after last year’s Boston marathon bombing. He concluded his talk by bringing Haslet-Davis on the stage to perform a bionic rumba.
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Hugh Herr is building the next generation of bionic limbs, robotic prosthetics inspired by nature’s own designs. Herr lost both legs in a climbing accident 30 years ago; now, as the head of the MIT Media Lab’s Biomechatronics group, he shows his incredible technology in a talk that’s both technical and deeply personal — with the help of ballroom dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost her left leg in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and performs again for the first time on the TED stage.
Cybathalon 2016: A Competition for Augmented Humans #nexthuman
The Olympic Games are a competition for the fittest and most talented able-bodied humans on Earth. The Paralympic Games are a competition for the fittest and most talented humans on Earth with physical and intellectual disabilities. To compete, paralympians take advantage of assistive systems, some of which are becoming increasingly cybernetic, combining traditional prosthetics with robotics. ETH Zurich and the Swiss National Competence Center of Research in Robotics have an idea of where we can take this. (via Cybathalon 2016: A Competition for Augmented Humans - IEEE Spectrum)
PLEASED project working on “plant-borgs” to act as environmental biosensors
Many claim that talking to plants helps them grow faster. But what if the plants could talk back? That’s what the EU-funded PLants Employed As SEnsing Devices (PLEASED) project is hoping to achieve by creating plant cyborgs, or “plant-borgs.” While this technology won’t allow green thumbs to carry on a conversation with their plants, it will provide feedback on their environment by enabling the plants to act as biosensors. Like most living organisms, plants produce electrical signals in response to external stimuli. By classifying which electrical signals are produced in response to which stimulus, the PLEASED team says will be possible to use plants as biosensors to measure a variety of chemical and physical parameters, such as pollution, temperature, humidity, sunlight, acid rain, and the presence of chemicals in organic agriculture. In an interview with youris.com, project coordinator Andrea Vitaletti admits that there are already artificial devices capable of measuring such parameters, but plants are everywhere, cheap, robust and don’t require calibration. They are also able to measure multiple parameters simultaneously. This is both a plus and a minus because it will make it more difficult to differentiate between different electrical signals that occur simultaneously. (via PLEASED project working on “plant-borgs” to act as environmental biosensors)
CSIRO, University of Tasmania scientists fit tiny sensors onto honey bees to study behaviour
Scientists in Tasmania are fitting thousands of honey bees with tiny sensors as part of a project aimed at understanding the insect’s behaviour and population decline. CSIRO is working with the University of Tasmania, beekeepers and fruit growers to trial the monitoring technology, in an attempt to improve honey bee pollination and productivity. They are fitting tiny sensors to the insects, a process which sometimes involves shaving them first. “This has been done before,” CSIRO science leader Paulo de Souza said. “The difference here is about the size of the sensor. And the difference is the number; we’re talking about 5,000 bees.” The sensors measure 2.5 millimetres by 2.5mm and act like a vehicle’s “e-TAG”, recording when the bees pass particular checkpoints. Researchers can use the signals from the sensors to find out how the bees move through the landscape and understand changes in their behaviour. They are also looking at the impacts of pesticides on the honey bees and the drivers of a condition decimating bee populations globally. “If it impacts the bees, it impacts the whole industry that is producing food,” Dr de Souza said. “This should help us understand optimal productivity conditions, as well as further our knowledge of the cause of colony collapse disorder.” (via CSIRO, University of Tasmania scientists fit tiny sensors onto honey bees to study behaviour - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation))
Do insects feel pain? Are they conscious? A science kit for at-home cyborg cockroaches provokes the hard questions