High Tech

Humanoid Assistive Robot Under Development

Image of Domo, an Assistive RobotMIT is developing a robot named Domo, a humanoid-type machine which is an early version of what one day may be a ‘thinking’ mechanical assistive device. According to Aaron Edsinger, a post-doctoral associate at MIT, the focus is on

. . . making a robot that can function in a real human environment — in someone’s kitchen, for example. Robots that are designed to help people in their homes will have to be able to ignore the clutter found in most environments and focus only on certain stimuli . . .

Games/Recreation High Tech Travel

Accessible Geocaching

Image of a Garmin GPSLast year my husband acquired another a new handheld device (as if he needed another one!) — a GPS, also known as a Global Positioning Device. If you’re not too concerned about privacy and freedom and stuff like that, you may have one in your car.

High Tech Wheelchairs

Trekinetic Comment

Happy Person in a Trekinetic Wheelchair Mike Spindle, from Trekinetic, has responded to my post about the Trekinetic K-2 All-Terrain wheelchair. He writes:

. . . yes the customers do love it!

Some are in use as everyday chairs in countries as diverse as UK, Ireland, Wales, India, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Belgium, Australia and Africa.

It’s not just for offroad — with smooth tyres the FWD is fast too!

He also sent the excellent photo you see above. ‘Nuff said — a picture’s worth, etc., etc.

High Tech

Silicone “Skin” for Prosthetic Limbs

Otto Bock C Leg ProsthesisThe prosthetic legs I’m most familiar with are the high tech, robotic-looking, high-functioning type that athletes use (like the one at left, from Otto Bock), so I was interested to see Heather Mills last night in a dancing competition. Ms. Mills, best-known for her entanglement with former Beatle Paul McCartney, lost a leg many years ago in an accident, and is generally photographed wearing a prosthesis designed to look much like her unharmed leg.

High Tech Travel Wheelchairs

Wheelchair, or Art? High-Tech Hits the (Off) Road

Trekinetic WheelchairOK, I won’t be objective about this. I’ve never used it; have never seen it in use; and have no idea if this particular wheelchair does even half of what the designers claim — or if it performs as well as they claim. But this thing is beautiful — more beautiful than any contemporary exotic car I’ve yet seen on the road. The design, and what it implies of performance, just takes my breath away.

High Tech

Experimental Prosthetic Hand That Began As Sushi Rice in a Glove

Adaptive Grasp Hand Prosthetic The Open Prosthetics Project blog (“Prosthetics Shouldn’t Cost An Arm and A Leg”) apparently hasn’t been updated since October 2006, and it’s a crying shame. OPP hopes to be to prosthetics development what Linux is to Microsoft — an open source design house which requires no licensing fees to build or share prosthetics engineering.

High Tech

“Bionic Eye” Clinical Trials

Bionic EyesAccording to the BBC, Researchers at the University of Southern California have developed a “bionic eye” and will begin doing clinical trials to test the device. A camera is mounted on glasses and sends an image to electrodes implanted in the retina, stimulating the damaged cells in the eye.

What we are trying to do is take real-time images from a camera and convert them into tiny electrical pulses that would jump-start the otherwise blind eye and allow patients to see,” said Professor Mark Humayun, from the University of Southern California.

At the moment, the implants produce only rudimentary vision. According to The Washington Post, six patients have used the implants to “distinguish light, perceive motion, and identify general shapes and objects.”

The trials are expected to take two years, after which the BBC reports that the devices are expected to become available to individuals at a cost of approximately $30,000 USD. The targeted diseases are retinitis pigmentosa or macular degeneration, which cause the death of retinal cells; according to the Washington Post, the new study will focus on patients over 50 years of age.

High Tech Shows and Expos

Robotic Rehab for a Paralyzed Arm

Power JacketLast September at Tokyo’s Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition in, Matsushita Electrical Industries showed a robotic jacket which lets a partially paralyzed limb move in response to cues from the undamaged arm.