For people with paralysis, living life confined to a wheelchair can be a pretty frustrating existence.
But technology is helping to give these folks some newfound independence. Technology like Mindwalker – the world’s first robotic exoskeleton that operates just through the power of thought. Sounds like science-fiction, doesn’t it? Well, European scientists are making this futuristic concept a reality. Mind Over Matter
Similar to the i-Transport invention that we reported on back in February, the first Mindwalker exoskeleton prototype helps lift wheelchair-bound people into a standing position. It then holds them upright and moves their legs via a computer.
However, the researchers now want to take the exoskeleton technology even further by using it to actually help make paralyzed people walk. And it will all happen through the power of the mind.
Neurophysiologist Guy Cheron at the University of Brussels is leading the project to improve the technology to the point where operating instructions come direct from the person’s brain.
Cheron explains, “We will use a cap that measures electrical activity from the surface of the scalp. Through calculation, we will detect the regions involved in the control of walk. We will only record signals emitted from the brain region that commands walking. This is the first step. Then, we will train the patient to take control of his brain’s signals.”
That’s not all…
In this age of increasing wearable technology, the scientists are taking a page out of Google (GOOG) and Samsung’s (SSNLF) books by working on a pair of glasses that will respond to the wearer’s eye movements to control the exoskeleton. Needless to say, both the physical and psychological impact of the Mindwalker is significant.
Dr. Marco Molinari is leading clinical trials of the Mindwalker in Rome and will now set about testing the system in real-world situations like at home and while shopping. His team is aiming to have the Mindwalker ready for the market by 2018.
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ARTICLE: Tech & Innovation Research