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Training for the Cybathlon, the World’s First Cyborg Olympics

At the inaugural Cybathlon in October 2016, people with disabilities will use sophisticated technologies to compete in a variety of futuristic sporting events. It’s the first ever cyborg Olympics, in which the potential of human-machine collaborations will be on full display. In the bike race, athletes with paralyzed legs will use nerve stimulation systems to power up their dormant leg muscles and push their feet against the bike pedals.  

Great Computers Never Die – VCF East 2016

They’re alive! At the Vintage Computer Festival East, fans keep the great machines of the past running.   VCF East took place April 15-17 at the InfoAge Science Center in Wall, New Jersey. Computers on display included a fully restored and working Apple 1, an Altair 8800, and a host of 8- and 16-bit machines, including a collection of (mostly unlicensed) Apple II clones from around the world and an array of Commodore 64s upgraded to do things like control the lights in your home. Speakers included the legendary Ted Nelson, the man who invented the words hypertext and hypermedia,…

Effortless Biking With the GeoOrbital E-Wheel

A bicycle retrofitted with a GeoOrbital, electric-powered front wheel demands a light thumb: Touch the throttle lever on the handlebar a little too hard, and you lurch ahead.   “You catch on in half an hour,” says Michael Burtov, the founder of GeoOrbital. I rode around for just 10 minutes, so I never quite caught on. But it sure beats pedaling.   It took Bartov less than a minute to fit his wheel to the bike and a few seconds more to slip the 3.4-kilogram (7.5 lb.) battery pack into its holder, which hangs where the spokes would be, if…

Prosthetic Hand Restores Amputee’s Sense of Touch

Igor Spetic lost his right hand in an industrial accident. Then he started working with Dustin J. Tyler, a researcher in human-machine interaction, to help develop an experimental haptic prosthetic that lets Spetic feel sensations in his missing hand.   To make the prosthetic work, Tyler tapped into Spetic’s nervous system. Implanted electrodes in the right forearm make contact with three nerves at 20 locations. Stimulating different nerve fibers produces realistic sensations: When one spot is stimulated, he feels a touch on his right palm; another spot produces sensation in his thumb. Thin-film force sensors in the device’s index and…

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