Friday, November 23, 2007

A portent of human augmentation

Greasy Spoon, 2007 by Brian Walker

In our cyborg world, I think it would be nice if prosthesis could mean expanding human skills or on a contrary re-creating fragile and powerless human sculptures.

Examples of prostheses

  • Researchers explored the ability of the skin to acquire and process information rivaling our senses of sight and hearing. The e-skin lab researches on tactile interfaces consisting both of sensors and actuators: wearable artificial skins as a navigation aid in space.
  • The Rheo Knee made by Ossur adapts to an individual's walking style by detecting 1,000 times every second the knee's position and the load applied to the limb. The user gets the proper amount of resistance for every step.
    Via wired
  • Victhom's urinary implant, a catheter-free, fully implanted pacemaker for the bladder. If trials go well, it could help 800 million people worldwide with bladder dysfunctions caused by spinal cord injury.
  • Durom™ Hip Resurfacing a joint replacement system that offers "freedom" of movement.
  • The cyberhand gives amputees the ability to use thought to move and grasp naturally, even to feel whatever the device touches.
  • A nanotechnology developed at MIT can "knit" together damaged neurons. Researchers have already restored sight to rodents and they believe the technique might also help repair injured spinal cords
  • Penn State developed the first fully implantable artificial heart, and in 2000 AbloMed acquired rights to further develop the technology. It is FDA approved only for emergency use and the company hopes to have broader approval by 2008. Eventually, researchers hope it can be a long-term solution for heart failure patients.
  • Current research on technological prostheses by Hugh Herr -director of the bio mechatronics group at the MIT Media Laboratory- transforms the perception a person wearing a prosthesis has of his artificial body part. While the mechanical properties of conventional passive prostheses remain fixed with walking speed and terrain, this research explores the prosthesis not just as a passive object, but also as an extension of the body. The prosthesis enables additional mechanical energy for forward propulsion of an ankle as well as controlling the ankle joint impedance.
  • The rehabilitation institute of Chicago made a biohybrid arm that allows amputees to move the prosthetic by thought alone.
  • For patients who have lost the use of their arms, scientists at the Cleveland FES Center are developing functional electrical stimulation systems.
  • Harvard and Massachisetts General Hospital researchers are developing an implantable artificial electrolarynx communication system for patients who have had a complete laryngectomy. The technology includes a neural interface and hands-free control of a natural sounding voice prosthesis.
  • Advanced Bionics made a cochlear implant that sends sounds directly to the auditory nerve instead of amplifying sound like a regular hearing aid.
  • IIP technologies and Intelligent Medical Implants made a retinal implant that bridges and replaces the processing function of a defective retina. Using it some blind persons can regain partial vision and orientation, even in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • A silicon hippocampus replacement could eventually replace damaged areas of the brain. Currently being developed by scientists at the University of Southern California.
  • Cyberkinetics created Braingate, a neuroprosthetic system with a patch that attaches directly to neurons in the brain to sense electrical signals. The sensor sends signals that can move a computer cursor or flip a switch.
  • Living bacteria have been incorporated into an electronic circuit to produce a supersensitive humidity sensor. Similar devices could one day be made that take greater advantage of living organisms, perhaps even using bacteria's energy systems to power electrical devices. Via We make money not art.
  • Microsoft Research filed a patent on power and data transmission through the human body. The human body is used as a conductive medium, which distributes power and/or data by coupling a power source to the human body via a first set of electrodes. In this case, the body acts as a computer network.

    Don't forget to check out the insightful Prosthetic Impulse: From a Posthuman Present to a Biocultural Future

    The prosthesis is not a mere extension of the human body; it is the constitution of this body qua “human.”
    —Bernard Steigler,Technics and Time

    Natalie Portman by freaking news.

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