Wednesday, 7 November 2012

One Step Closer to Cyborgs

Of all the cool gadgets and gizmos and random weird shit that sci-fi promises us will happen eventually, there are few that are expected to be achieved within our lifetimes. Given that I am younger than Game Boys, this means that there a good few decades of innovation awaiting us before we're all going around in hover cars.

But recently, it has been revealed that Federico Parietti and Harry Asada from MIT have brought mankind one step closer to cyborgs.

Remember when Bender sported these bad boys...?

Well, what was not made clear in that episode was that they were invented much closer to now than to then. And that they work on humans as well as robots.

Parietti and Asada have developed the prototype of a pair of semi-autonomous arms that are worn like a backpack and extend around the body. They are designed to be intelligent enough that they can be of assistance without needing a lot of tricky programming; they will learn and anticipate what their wearer wants them to do, having been programmed to perform specific tasks.

The work is being funded by Boeing and the prototypes were shown at the Dynamic Systems and Control Conference in Florida earlier on this year. The arms are being designed to help factory workers with jobs that require two pairs of hands; they are supposed to increase efficiency by letting that guy who would usually be the second pair do something more important with his time than just holding stuff.

They seem like they would be really useful once they have reached a point that they are available to industries. However, it is only a matter of time beyond that before they become commercialised and nerds like me get their hands on them and do awesome cosplays of this dude!

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