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Human bionics

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Bionic eye.jpg

Bionics (also known as biomimicry) is the application of combining both biological studies and technological engineering to replicate or improve a trait found in nature. Human bionics is the practice of enhancing the human bodies physical abilities. The whole goal is to imitate and expound upon our previous biological structures.

History

The word bionic was invented by Jack E. Steele in 1958, who coined the word from two previous existing Greek words ("bion", meaning life, and the the suffix "ic", meaning like). [1] The inspiration of human bionics has been know as far back as human history itself. Nature has always challenged man's ideas to become something more than what he is physically limited to. In Greek mythology, the story of Icarus and his wax wing is a glimpse into the past of how Greek viewed the possibilities of surpassing what humans are capable of doing. Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) is a prodigy of his time, and even now is held in the highest regards for his work. He is considered to be the first real bionic scientist. There have been many more bionic pioneers such as Hezarfen Ahmed Celebi (1609 – 1649)who also studied the flight of birds such as da Vinci had. He came up with a few designs of his own. Sir George Cayley (1773 – 1857) invented the parachute by looking at the fruit of the Tragopogon pratensis and taking on its inspiration of how it flouted as it fell. [2]

Wearable robotics/exoskeleton

An example of an exoskeleton arm.

Exoskeleton

An exoskeleton can come in a variety of different forms. What it looks like and how it moves depends on what the skeleton was designed to accomplish. An exoskeleton is an external bionic skeleton that supports, steadies, and gives the user leverage; giving them strength to deal with heavier loads. This causes them to appear to be stronger because they can deal with heavier loads.

Skin

Skin is a very difficult organ to recreate because it has many different traits that allow us to sense our surroundings. It has the ability to feel pressure, to feel temperature and to sense pain, as well as the ability to reproduce. Trying to replicate such an complex organ is incredibly difficult. At the University of California, Prof Ali Javey is in development of trying to create a prototype of bionic skin. His calls it "e-skin", which is made up of a stretchy plastic material that is woven with electronic sensor. This skin gives a sense of touch to robots, but his real dream is to attach e-skins bionic limbs to allow humans the feeling of touch as well.

Limbs

Bionic limbs are probably the most iconic parts that make a bionic man truly a bionic man. The industry has been able to reach out to much of the physically disabled community, especially the wounded disabled soldiers that come back from war. Mainly because of the soldiers, the technological advancement has increased exponentially. One of the universities in the US was funded by the military to create one of the most advanced bionic arms ever created. Its dexterity is almost equal with what a real arm is capable of.

Hugh Herr showing off his latest powered ankle as part of his artificial legs. He told a story of when he made a set legs each 1" longer and everyday he would increase his height - he was nearly 8 feet tall before others noticed. Super Human.

Surgical/ internal robotics

Over time, bionics has gradually worked its way from being external to now becoming advanced enough to fit within the human body, while at the same time accomplishing the task that it was created for.

Brain

The brain is the most advanced and complex organ in the body, mainly because it keeps track of all the other organs responsibilities. If something happens to the brain, such as a stroke or another disease of some sort,it can cause debilitation. Bionics thinks it has found a way to revive some of the damaged parts by sending electrical stimulation to excite portions of the brain. They are currently working on an implant that generates deep brain stimulation. The effects of this specific technology are astounding. This implant has relieved people of many complications, such as relieving people with Parkinson's disease of tremor. There has been some cases where the implant has rehabilitated people in wheelchairs enough to allow them to walk. [3]

Eye

Unlike a pair of glasses or contacts, technology in human bionics is looking at different approach to solve complications with eye sight. Light sensitive chips may be the next answer to improve damaged or lack of eye sight. The light sensitive chips can be inserted under the retina inside the eye. At the back of the eye, the chip can receive light and then can convert the simulation it received into electrical impulses that are then sent to the brain. The electrical impulses are then interpreted into a pix elated images that is seen by the brain on a receiving 1,500 pixel implant.

Ear

Patients with lack or complete loss of hearing will tend to encounter a device called the cochlear implant. This is a device enables the patient to receive a portion of whatever kind of hearing they lost. This implant is one of the most widely use bionic body parts because it has effectively returned some portion of hearing back for many people. Tens of thousands of peoples have been touch by this technology. The way that this device works is that it bypasses the damaged part of the ear and interacts directly with the brain. It uses a microphone and converts the signals it picks up into electrical stimulation for the brain.

Heart

The heart is a very vital organ in the body and it if is troubled with complications, the consequence can be fatal. Heart transplants may not be an effective enough way to help patients in time because there have been cases where the patient dies before a suitable heart was found on the waiting list. So to avoid any further obstetrical with open heart surgery, bionics has been considered a viable option. Patients have been recorded to have live up to one to three years on a plastic heart alone.

Other Internal Organs

There are many organs in the body, some vital, others not so vital, but all of then carry out specific tasks to which it was designed to do. If some of these organs become damaged enough to the point were medicine or medical attention are incapable of saving the organ, the option of organ transplant maybe considered. Bionics shine the most when the physical capabilities of the human body are no longer sufficient. So when a simple transplant can not be achieved, bionic organs become a focus.

Brett Elston of GamesRadar rocks the bionic arm.

Future of human bionics

The future holds so much for human bionics in many ways. Even now, the technological advancement for bionics is rising. In the near future, wireless nerve brain interfaces that control prosthetic limbs, artificial red blood cells/white blood cell that enhance the blood and that can be programmed to fight off infections, and even mimicries of complicated organs such as having an artificial kidney, augmented reality with a bionic lenses and a complete internal augmented exoskeleton with enhanced human strength and speed are all a good possibilities of being able to become realities. In the far future, advanced genetic engineering and new reconstructive technology could replace prostheses and make them obsolete.[4]

Video

References

  1. Unknown.[1] Wikipedia. Web. page was last modified on 21 February 2013.
  2. Knut, Braun. [2] BIOKON. Web. Date-of-publication or last-update or access (specify which).
  3. Production: James Gallagher, Tom Beal, Anna-Marie Lever. Design: Mark Bryson. Development: Luke Ward.. [3] BBC News. Web. 2 March 2012 Last updated.
  4. lSOFGE, ERIK. [4] Popular Mechanics. Web. Date-of-publication or last-update or access (specify which).

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2010/05/new-bionic-arms/ http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/ideas/2012/05/the-rise-of-the-bionic-human/ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/8114920/Bionic-implants-We-have-the-technology.html http://bionics.soe.ucsc.edu/ http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/prosthetics/the-future-history-of-bionic-tech#slide-1 http://www.ethicalbionics.org/bionics.html http://www.biokon.net/bionik/historie.html.en