The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicked off yesterday with a very special ceremonial first kick. Juliano Pinto, a 29-year old paraplegic, kicked the official game ball a short distance with the help of a robotic exoskeleton that he controlled with just his mind.
The mind-controlled robotic suit is the invention of Miguel Nicolelis, a Brazilian scientist at Duke University whom we’ve written about numerous times in the past for his work on brain-machine interfaces. Named the Bra-Santos Dumont after Brazil and Albert Santos-Dumont, an aviation pioneer who was born in Brazil, the suit works by reading neural signals from the brain using a cap fitted with sensors. The signals are decoded and command a pair of hydraulic legs to move. The Bra-Santos Dumont also contains artificial skin in the soles of its feet that contain pressure, temperature, and speed sensors. The skin allows the user to receive a kind of tactile stimulation when walking with the exoskeleton by vibrating the user’s arm when the foot touches the ground.
Looking at the screengrab of the kick, it’s unlikely that the Bra-Santos Dumont exoskeleton will instantly give you Cristiano Ronaldo skills, but it should certainly give some hope to
soccer futbol players who have lost the use of their legs.
More coverage from the BBC: Paraplegic in robotic suit kicks off World Cup…
More info: Laboratory of Dr. Miguel Nicolelis…
Dr. Miguel Nicolelis flashbacks: Neural Link Lets One Rat’s Brain Guide Another (w/video)…; Researchers Develop Sense of Infrared Sight in Rats With Goal of Bringing Visible Sight to Blind People (w/video) …; Brain-Computer Interfaces, Mind-Controlled Robotic Avatars, and Our Self-Realization …; TEDMED 2012 Day 2 – Rockstar Scientists, and Patients, Aiming to Knock Out Disease …;