Researchers and scientists have been working for years to develop artificial limbs that function like a natural limb. This research has been going on for years and has resulted in varying degrees of success. One of the biggest challenges facing amputees and researchers in developing new robotic limbs is finding ways to control the limb.
We're on the ground floor here at CEATEC 2013, where Sharp -- which also showed off its Mebius Pad Windows 8.1 -- has demonstrated its Health Care Support Chair. With this contraption, which looks at first glance like a high-tech workstation for gaming or computing, clinics can remotely obtain a variety of health information on a patient.
In typical cases, monitoring a patient's vital signs involves hooking them up to a variety of sensors, all of which end up inhibiting the patient's mobility and causing a tangle of wires. Such isn't the case with wearable sensors developed by researchers at the Liverpool John Moores University, however, who have received a patent for wireless sensors that can be woven into clothing.
This week the folks responsible for the #ifihadglass program for Google Glass have shown an "Explorer Story" of a woman who is at once a New Yorker, a law student, and a quadriplegic. Speaking on her acceptance into the Google Glass Explorers program, she describes her journey from the last time she went camping through to now, the first time she'll have gone camping since the car accident that put her in a wheelchair. This journey is especially relevant as the last time she went camping was the same time she crashed.
As a part of Microsoft's HomeOS project, the company will expand with what's called "Lab of Things", making the case for researchers giving big boosts to devices in your living space. Microsoft's "LOT" will work with the public as well, sending out an SDK (Software Development Kit) to creators of software for the expansion of home-based systems in the wild. This system has been deployed during and in conjunction with the first day's events at this year's Microsoft Research Faculty Summit event.
A 3D-printed cast concept, more flexible and wearer-friendly than traditional plaster cast for break and fracture patients, is the latest potential application of advanced materials manipulation. The design, dubbed the Cortex Exoskeleton, is the handiwork of Jake Evill, and could potentially deliver more structured support for broken limbs while also being lighter, stronger, and more convenient than existing options.
Artificially inseminated babies created from the genes of three people could be a reality as early as 2014, with the UK the first to approve so-called mitochondria replacement to prevent inheritable diseases. The controversial procedure involves transferring the genetic material from two parents into an egg from another woman; by removing the donor egg's nucleus, and replacing it with the parents' nucleus, the risk of inherited defects that could have otherwise been passed down to the baby is removed. However, the fact that the child will have DNA from three parents, not two - albeit only around 0.1-percent from the woman who donated the egg - has some genetic modification opponents angry, given IVF embryos are destroyed in the process.
An eight week EC trial of a brain-controlled exoskeleton potentially promising newfound mobility to those with lower-limb paralysis will finish this week, with the project expected to spark a five year development path to a commercial version. The device, dubbed MindWalker, is the handiwork of a seven partner team coordinated by Space Applications Services, which has been working for the past three years on a motorized exoskeleton that can be controlled and navigated via brain impulses. Now, New Scientist reports, the European Commission will assess the results, having funded the project so far.
It's been a long while since we first saw Honda's exoskeleton-like Walking Assist Device - 2008, in fact - but the first 100 units are finally strolling into broader service in Japan. 100 of the 2.6kg gadgets, which strap onto the legs and hips so as to help the wearer walk more steadily and with a longer stride, have been deployed as part of a loan program across Japanese hospitals.
Real-life tricorder project, the Scanado Scout, has graduated to crowdfunding stage, with the DIY health monitoring tool looking to raise $100,000 and ship to backers by March 2014. The project, by startup Scanado, aims to turn a smartphone into a health tracking device - or "an Emergency Room in your pocket" - with a compact vital-sign reading puck that wirelessly communicates via low-power Bluetooth.