Saturday, May 23, 2009

Call Ripley! Bionic commandos are just an upgrade away

This really has to be seen to be believed:

OK, so I just Googled the i-LIMB to find out more, and here's an even better looking one:
Video found in this other blog here
This is just awesome! Seriously, though, as fantastic as these prosthetics are right now, there's still a ton of potential.  Back in 2004, I read a story (I forget where) about this game called "Mind Balance" where you look at cubes on a screen to balance a tightrope walker.  The "controller" (by which I mean, "the mechanism by which the player interacts with the program") is a piece of headgear which more or less reads your mind by using EEG to determine which cube is being looked at:  look at the left one to lean left, look at the right one to lean right.  I found the story today in an archived issue of Computor Edge magazine (see page 20).  In that article are other applications of similar technologies (like using thoughts to browse the internet), and opposite applications of other technologies (such as using ultrasonic pulses to induce sensory experiences).

Fast-forward to 2007, and Australia-based Emotiv has actually built a "helmet" that can play even more sophisticated games by reading brain waves (video demonstration).  Mattel has even made the technology into a child's toy with Mind Flex.  And just in case you aren't already aware, Raytheon Sarcos has already built a prototype exoskeleton called the XOS which monitors the human wearer's movements 200 times per second, can move at human speed, and reduces the perceived weight of lifts by 95% - it makes you stronger without slowing you down (video here, just skip to 1:15 to see the machine in action).  All we need to do is to refine and integrate these technologies, and soon we'll have cyborgs and remote-controlled robots running all over the place!

OK, maybe not, but this is still really, really exciting!

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