The subject of the upcoming documentary The Incredible Bionic Man made an appearance at this year's NYCC, New York City's contribution to the comic convention scene. Bionic Man is made entirely of prosthetic body parts and systems, including a cardiovascular system made of a mechanical "heart" and iron-based nanoparticle "blood". He can also walk—somewhat.
Roboticists Richard Walker and Bertolt Meyer, who himself has a prosthetic left arm due to a birth defect, answered questions beside Bionic Man at a NYCC panel this weekend. They cobbled together the functioning model to demonstrate in one fell swoop the current state of human prosthetics. "What we’re seeing is an explosion of innovation and new products in the market that I myself hadn’t thought I would witness in my lifetime," Meyer said.
“Suddenly, technology is at that point where we’re able to rebuild a lot of parts of the body. That technology has only been around for a few years, so that’s why I thought this was a good moment in time to explore these technologies and introduce them to a wider audience.” - Meyer
Bionic Man is not intended to function as an android or robot. Its primary purpose is to help people visualize the sum total of possible prosthetics the human body can benefit from. Their tin man includes a 3D-printed head, a device designed to help blind people see to some extent, prosthetic hands, and a voice.
The Bionic Man cost Walker and Meyer about $1 million to build. The two are optimistic about the future of bionics. "In the not-so-distant-future," Meyer said, "bionic body parts will give us abilities that nature didn’t plan." The documentary about the roboticists and their prize project will debut on The Smithsonian Channel Oct. 20, 2013.