How bionic technologies are empowering the disabled?
The field of prosthetics has seen an explosion of innovation in recent years. It defines as an artificial substitute or replacement of a part of the body such as the leg, arm, eye, a facial bone, the palate, a knee, and other body parts. Prosthetics are in the spotlight as an advanced sector, with potentials from bionics and disruptive technologies. Recent advancements in bionic technology have helped scientists and researchers to create a range of innovative materials that can enhance human ability. This is significantly crucial in the treatment of the physically disabled population. Bionic devices like prosthetic arms and legs can assist people with disabilities to live a normal life.
Here are 7 bionic technologies transforming the future treatment of the physically disabled population.
Referred to as a visual prosthesis, the bionic eye is a visual device aimed at restoring functional vision in those suffering from partial or total blindness. The ability to give sight to a blind person with the help of a bionic eye relies on the circumstances surrounding the loss of sight. Since it is still in its infancy, a bionic eye consists of a small digital camera, an external processor, and a microchip implant connected to the brain through stimulating electrodes. The Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System is the first commercially available bionic eye system developed by a California-based company Second Sight Medical Product.
Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC), an un-tethered, hydraulic-powered anthropomorphic exoskeleton, which is designed to assist soldiers in combat carry a load of up to 200 pounds at a top speed of 10 miles per hour for extended periods of time. Developed by Berkley Bionics and Lockheed Martin, it is a third-generation exoskeleton allowing the wearer to easily lift up to 200 pounds of weight and also decreasing the amount of metabolic energy required by the wearer. This exoskeleton significantly provides a person with superhuman capabilities by boosting the strength as well as endurance.
Bionic ear simply provides the hearing ability to people who are not able to listen or deaf. A bionic ear device captures sounds and conveys a version of the hearing signal straight to the auditory nerve. However, this process is complex and challenging, but once implanted successfully, it has the power to change peoples’ lives. Starkey, a company, which is known for its broad range of hearing-enhancement technology, developed Halo, a device made for iPhone hearing aid engineered to be compatible with iPhone, iPad® and iPod touch®.
An artificial cell refers to an engineered particle that imitates one or many functions of a biological cell. Enzyme inside artificial cells is protected from the extracellular environment, but substrates smaller than protein can equilibrate rapidly into the artificial cells and products can diffuse out. Designed for a cluster of applications, artificial cells have been developed to combine properties of biological systems, such as nanoscale efficiency, self-organization and adaptability at relatively low cost.
The prosthetic knee is designed to mimic the flexion and extension of an anatomical knee joint as the amputee mobilizes. The knee, in tandem with a prosthetic foot, functions to support the amputee while providing a smooth economical gait. RHEO is a prosthetic knee developed by MIT artificial intelligence researchers Hugh Herr and Ari Wilkenfeld. Unlike electronic knee systems that usually had to be programmed by a technician when the patient first put them on, the RHEO knee creates realistic, comfortable motion on its own. It works by learning the way a user walks and using sensors to understand what kind of terrain they are walking on.
An artificial limb can help people with missing arms or legs to perform daily activities like walking, eating, dressing and more. It allows them to function nearly, or similar to before. The rapid access to different sorts of artificial limbs has given a new level of functionality and mobility capability to prosthetic patients. Some artificial limbs or bionic limbs often work by using signals from an individual’s muscles to seamlessly move, while some rely on electrical signals from the brain and nerves in order to create the proper movements.
An artificial pancreas is capable of monitoring a person’s blood sugar and adjusting the level of insulin to meet their body’s needs. It is a human creation innovation that is aimed at releasing insulin in response to changing blood glucose levels in a similar way to a human pancreas. There are main three artificial pancreas systems being worked on by researchers are Closed-loop artificial pancreas; Bionic pancreas, and Implanted artificial pancreas. Closed-loop artificial pancreas is the most widely used artificial pancreas.