Thursday, June 30, 2011

Is Bionics a Real Option for the Handicapped?

Well according to this film I found on Boing Boing blog, not only is it an honest option but a likelihood in the very near future. In the past we have seen experiment on activating a paraplegic's own muscles to regain function. However that approach has proved very problematic especially older injuries or paralysis from diseases like Polio which atrophies the muscles beyond the point where they can be utilized. From systems developed for the military to give some level of function to injured Vets to other system that allow troops to travel faster and longer carrying much greater loads comes external systems and prosthesis that will soon allow far more range and flexibility that any other system up to this point.

Segway's (not surprising, the Segway itself was an outgrowth of Kamen's work on a self balancing wheelchair that could climb stairs) inventor Dean Kamen has long championed bionics and other devices to aid the handicapped, talks in this film about some of the exciting breakthroughs that have taken place in only a few years.

Of course it took only 2 minutes before the Six Million Dollar Man was mentioned - so quite a lot of work has to be done as well in the public's perception of the capabilities, among others.


Homer said...

Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. OK, now that I have that out of my system....

I am amazed by the technology and how far things have progressed in just the last few years. I remember, when I was a kid, the first time I saw someone with a hook for an arm. It totally freaked me out and I had nightmares about it. If there are any people that should be first in line to receive these I think it should be the servicemen that have been disabled in the Middle East during that past 10 years. They deserve it for what they have given up in the line of duty.

The worst case scenario for this would be exploitation when the science gets to the point that the prosthetics/implants are no longer discernable from human tissue. In today’s worlds, what if these were available as readily as a boob job or a joint replacement?

“Damn, my kid is getting outrun by everyone on the track team. Guess we need to upgrade his legs to Model 200’s.”

“So you’ve got zoom vision on your implants? Check this out. I’ve got x-ray and infrared too.”

“Hmm, one heart is good, what if I had two?”

“My ears are 7.1 Dolby Surround and THX certified!!”

“Look, I can jack myself into my car and drive it with my mind!!”

And think about what this could do for the ‘adult film’ industry…hahaha!!!

Probably shouldn’t have gone there, but I’ve had a few drinks gearing up for my five day weekend. So with that, cheers, and have a great 4th of July. Keep up the good work on ‘Beam Me Up’!!

Beam Me Up said...

Somehow I knew I could count on you Homer to go to the edge and spit over! lol There are no doubt that the prosthetics are getting good and some of the best are not even being commercially built. I was watching a film about a father and son back yard workshop duo that have built a fantastic hand that is easy to control, has great mobility, surprisingly good feedback and the really good news is that it is cheap!

But what got me as concerned with the article was that it was external which for a lot of paras and quads that still have sensation this is still a far more palatable option. Am I saying that your scenario isn't viable? Oh no, you hit it right on the head, resistance really is futile! The proof is already there, people removing healthy teeth, colored contacts, glasses are now a fashion accessory and lets not get started with cosmetic surgery! It is when any of this technology becomes affordable to the general or at the least affluent (though have you noticed that no matter what the tech, once the rich have had a go at any super tech, the retailers don't waste much time retooling for the less wealthy) that we really will start seeing, I thing exploitation is too strong like abuse, but it certainly will be used in more self absorbed areas.