Bionic, Haptics, and Virtual Reality Technology For Rehabilitation

It’s true, technology has revolutionised our world. It has created amazing tools and resources from incredible communication inventions to medical procedures. Through these new and innovative technologies like bionics, it can help the everyday life of people and rehabilitative people.

Open Bionics are an award-winning bionics company that have developed a multi-grip bionic hand called the Hero Arm, it detects muscle movement resulting in intuitive life-like precision, and it being one of the world’s first medically certified 3D printed bionic hand. 

The creation of the bionic hand is through 3D scanning, modelling and printing, and it can be created in just a matter of a week, this new piece of technology is light, functional and affordable.

The bionic hand can create many types of actions, for example, grab, pinch, making a fist, a thumbs-up, an OK sign, high fiving, the list is endless. The technology behind these robotic movements are generated through picking up signals from the users muscles. There are tiny sensors within the bionic arm which pick up the users muscle movements, which allows the hand to open and close, therefore helping the user achieve everyday life movements with confidence, precision and style. 

Technology is going above and beyond and it is fascinating what it can do now in the 21st century. Bionic prosthetic hands are rapidly evolving and are gradually becoming in high demand, it encourages and inspires technologists for the next craze but most importantly, enhances the everyday life of others, physically and mentally. 

Another piece of technology that is changing people’s lives is Virtual Reality (VR), a computer-generated (CG) environment that allows users to immerse themselves in an artificial world that feels real to the sensory perceptions.

This high demand piece of technology was predicted decades ago, to be precise in 1935 by Stanley G. Weinbaum in his science fiction novel Pygmalion’s Spectacles – A character explains about an idea of a pair of goggles that lets the user experience a fictional world through holographics, smell, taste and touch.

Here’s an extract from Weinbaum’s book; “But listen—a movie that gives one sight and sound. Suppose now I add taste, smell, even touch, if your interest is taken by the story. Suppose I make it so that you are in the story, you speak to the shadows, and the shadows reply, and instead of being on a screen, the story is all about you, and you are in it. Would that be to make real a dream?” Uncanny how representative Weinbaum’s ‘fictional’ prediction is now fiction and how technology has evolved to today! 

From Weinbaum’s prediction in the 20th century to now, today in the 21st, we are starting to see a wide scope of industries embracing VR technology, for example, industries such as medicine, architecture, automotive and travel, amidst many others. This innovative piece of technology is changing peoples everyday ways of life, especially for a girl called Maisy. 

Maisy lost the majority of her sight due to a brain tumour, and is limited to only a tiny blurry circle in her right eye. Thanks to technology rapidly advancing, Maisy was able to see and read again with the help of GiveVision goggles from SlightPlus, they help visually impaired and low vision people see clearly again by using contrasting and magnifiers to highlight outlines of objects, amplifing the users remaining vision.

Watch Maisy’s reaction of being able to read again at the Hay Festival 2019 here.

Virtual Reality is maturing as a piece of technology with aspects that would have not been believable decades ago, with it heightening senses and breaking the boundaries of what technology can give. It encompasses surgery planning, education training, workforce training and health and safety. 

Another piece of technology that has been developed and has advanced in the technology industry is Haptics. Haptics stimulates the sensory sources of touch and motion through computer simulations – from tactile touchscreens on the latest technology devices to envisioned full body VR suits (with multiple haptics points), haptics can be used in physical rehabilitation, education, navigation, communication and can you believe it, even online shopping!

Haptics is the science of touch and it’s how we interface with the world in many aspects. The basic idea of haptics primitively existed in applications such as video games, the controller would vibrate for example, after a shake/ release of a weapon or if the user was doing something wrong. 

Haptics technology is constantly being developed further, giving the user a sense of presence, tactile, vision and proprioception with various mechanisms and sensations, achieving that ‘full touch’ simulation.

Video games and Virtual Reality are starting to take the concept of touch to the next level, allowing the user to experience different senses and communicate to objects through the sensation of holding and touching things they would in real life, for example, reaching towards a cup of coffee – feeling the shape of the mug, weight and temperature. Turning reality into real life.

Haptics is another way artificial intelligence and new technology plays a growing role in peoples everyday lives. It showcases how technology can improve the entertainment aspects of peoples lives, as well as productivity and safety. The future of technology really is at our fingertips.

At Sliced Bread we are always excited and intrigued about current and future developments of technology. If you are interested in talking to us about technology or Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality or Haptics, feel free to give us a call on +44 (0)206 148 0526 or contact us here.

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