Robot style mind-leg harmony
For now, Oscar Pistorious has to compete in the Olympics with running blades, but in a couple generations, runners could be sprinting atop mind-controlled robot legs. Step aside Steve Austin, and take Jammie Sommers with you. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine and the Long Beach Veterans Affairs Medical Center have successfully tested a pair of such legs. Just think of it. No really, just think of it, because that’s all you need to do to get the legs to respond. And now that the team has figured out how to translate EEG readouts (brainwaves) to bot gams, there’s a whole new realm of possibilities in the field of prosthetics.
Keep in mind, these are still in the early stages of development.
While future improvements could allow the user to change speed and direction and perform actions such as sitting down and standing up, the current implementation of the system is only capable of alternating between binary “idling” and “walking” states. Another issue is so-called “false alarms,” which, as the researchers note, “carry the risk of bodily harm in future BCI-prostheses for overground walking” — four of these occurred during testing, with the device’s pre-programmed startup sequence causing them to last at least five seconds each.
As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.
Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.
Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.