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Investigation: Bionics

Episode 15'' (S2E9'') -Differences Made Indeed

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The season two finale is here, but don’t worry the moment has been prepared for.  Amidst Professor Pedantic’s continued efforts to bend the Laboratory of Applied Geekdom to his will, Mister Flask concludes this season’s investigation into bionics.  Can Doctor Geek regain command of the lab before all is lost?

 

 

You read that right, a company in Japan called Cyberdyne has created a powered exoskeleton called HAL.  But unlike its fictional namesake, this company is a venture firm which was established by Dr. Yoshiyuki Sankai, of the University of Tsukuba, Japan, in order to materialize his idea to utilize “Cybernics” for the benefits of humankind in such fields as medicine, caregiving, welfare, labor, heavy works, and entertainment.

 

HAL® (Hybrid Assistive Limb®) is the world‘s first cyborg-type robot, by which a wearer‘s bodily functions can be improved, supported and enhanced. Wearing of HAL® leads to a fusion of “man”, “machine” and “information”. HAL® assists a physically challenged person to move and enables him or her to exert bigger motor energy than usual. HAL® is also considered as the system that accelerates a motor learning of cerebral nerves.

 

The demonstration video is amazing, but I wonder, had Christopher Reeve had access to HAL would Superman be turned into The Terminator?

 

 

 

Episode 15'' (S2E9'') -Differences Made Indeed

Click here to view and listen

Download .MP3

 

 

The next chapter in our season two finale is here! Professor Pedantic struggles through his first day as the director of the Laboratory of Applied Geekdom.  But, he does manage to introduce our first interview into bionics, with Mr. Mike Hogan.  What bionics is actually capable of surprised even Doctor Geek.

 

Oh and what of Doctor Geek?  In his exile, he has teamed up with The Cobalt Parrot’s Cantina’s own Rick and Sam.  While building a dimensional backdoor to the lab, Doctor Geek is sent to the far future where, no pressure or anything, he learns that the universe depends on him retaking the lab.   

 

Limbitless Solutions, a nonprofit organization started last May by Albert Manero with the goal of making affordable, 3-D-printed bionic limbs for children with amputations, helped build an “Iron Man” themed bionic arm for Alex Pring, a 7-year-old boy who was born with a partially developed limb.  Alex received his new arm from non-other than Tony Stark himself, Robert Downey Jr.

 Like all true bionics, the prosthetic is controlled directly by the mind.   The arm works via surface electromyography.  Electromyography (EMG) reads the electrical signal from the brain and transmits it to the arm, producing a signal that triggers the opening and closing of the hand. 

 Manero said he was inspired by Ivan Owen, a special effects artist and puppeteer in Bellingham, Wash., who developed the first 3-D printed hand. Owen posted his design and instructions on Thingiverse, an online community to share 3-D designs.

 

“Alex’s arm is 3-D printed on a Stratasys printer, which takes approximately 40 to 50 hours to manufacture,” Manero said. “Assembly and the electronics take some additional time. Each arm is uniquely tailored for the user, both in fit and in expression.”