|By Drew Hendricks||
|January 31, 2014 03:51 PM EST||
Back in the mid-seventies a popular TV series called The Six Million Dollar Man featured a badly injured astronaut who had both legs, one arm and an eye replaced by "bionic" enhancements.
At the time it all seemed pretty far-fetched, but forty years later medicine has made some staggering advances. Indeed such is the range of electronic and mechanically-assisted body parts available now, they probably surpass even the wildest of the program-makers' ideas!
From The Ground Up
Anyone who has watched paralympic sports can't fail to be impressed by two things: first, the huge disadvantages that humans are able overcome, and second the technology associated - both in terms of the specialist equipment for wheelchair athletes and the prosthetics for amputees. "Bladerunners" have now become commonplace and Alan Oliveira, despite having no lower legs, has used these advanced carbon-fiber limbs to run the hundred meters in a remarkable 10.77 seconds.
Away from the track, those blades are practically useless (it's extremely difficult to actually stand still), but there are many advances in prosthetic alternatives. Jozef Metelka is known as the man with 13 legs. Although that might sound a little bizarre - perhaps even overkill - there are good reasons for his many options.
Even with all the advanced science and technology at our disposal, we can't yet produce a leg that mimics the one most of us are born with. We can't replicate the tremendous strength and flexibility in a single unit. However, we can create them to suit specific purposes so, for example, when a titanium bolt was found to freeze in the cold conditions associated with skiing, a high-performance plastic was used instead. For mountain biking, a leg with a built-in shock absorber was designed. For road cycling, a streamlined carbon-fiber version, etc.
The same level of ingenuity and skill is being used for hands and arms. The tiny electrical signals that muscles produce can now be used to activate real-life bionics, opening and closing the hand and even allowing use of a pen or computer mouse. Currently, external sensors need to be used (normally attached to the skin), but work has already begun on the idea of brain implants.
Under The Hood
Of course it's not just outside the body where technology has gone hand-in-hand with medical advances. Hip replacements are commonplace. Heart pacemakers are now so small they can be fitted via the femoral artery - in around ten minutes - and without invasive surgery. Fantastic as that might seem, there are now entire plastic hearts available. Currently they are used as temporary replacements until a suitable donor organ can be found, but how long until permanent versions bring waiting lists down to virtually nothing?
And other body parts?Developments in artificial pancreases offer hope to Type 1 diabetes sufferers. Cochlear implants are helping people with all manner of hearing problems. Light sensitive micro-chips are bringing hope to blind and partially sighted. Deep brain implants are restoring motor functions to those who "freeze" due to Parkinson's Disease.
Facing The World
Sometimes it's just being able to face the world that's a challenge. Today's prosthetics can be electro-mechanical marvels, but often they still look like part of some weird robot.
Fortunately, advances in plastics and "fake" skin have made many items much more wearable - often difficult to tell from natural appendages. There are other less technological, but equally important advances, such as in wig technology for those with alopecia or recovering from radiation or chemotherapy. Human hair is carefully oriented to be truly naturalistic. Methods of attachment vary, taking into account increased skin sensitivity or allowing the wearer to take part in numerous sports.
The Real Six Million Dollar Man
The extraordinary advances in medical science, bionics and prosthetics is underlined by roboticists Rich Walker and Matthew Godden of the UK's Shadow Robot Co. In October 2013 they built what is claimed to be the world's first fully bionic man.
Created entirely from human prosthetics and replacement organs, he not only has working arms and legs but lungs, a heart, a spleen and even a working circulatory systems carrying blood. What's all the more amazing is that although inflation would make our original six million dollar man many times more expensive today, this experimental creation - arguably the closest thing to a human ever built - cost around $1 million.
We're may still be some way from seeing replacements for every part of our bodies, but little seems beyond us. It would appear it's no longer a question of if, but when.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Sep. 28, 2016 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,857
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
Sep. 28, 2016 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,736
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
Sep. 28, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 3,284
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Sep. 28, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,917
We’ve been doing it for years, decades for some. How many websites have you created accounts on? Your bank, your credit card companies, social media sites, hotels and travel sites, online shopping sites, and that’s just the start. We do it often without even thinking about it, quickly entering our personal information, our data, in a plethora of systems. Sometimes we’re not even aware of the information we are providing. It could be very personal information (think of the security questions you ...
Sep. 28, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,738
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
Sep. 28, 2016 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,411
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lea...
Sep. 28, 2016 01:57 PM EDT Reads: 186
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.
Sep. 28, 2016 01:23 PM EDT Reads: 211
Businesses are struggling to manage the information flow and interactions between all of these new devices and things jumping on their network, and the apps and IT systems they control. The data businesses gather is only helpful if they can do something with it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, will discuss how different the impact of IoT will be for large businesses, expanding how IoT will allow large organizations to make their legacy ap...
Sep. 28, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 151
Video experiences should be unique and exciting! But that doesn’t mean you need to patch all the pieces yourself. Users demand rich and engaging experiences and new ways to connect with you. But creating robust video applications at scale can be complicated, time-consuming and expensive. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zohar Babin, Vice President of Platform, Ecosystem and Community at Kaltura, will discuss how VPaaS enables you to move fast, creating scalable video experiences that reach your...
Sep. 28, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,104
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Sep. 28, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,546
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
Sep. 28, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 5,098
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Sep. 28, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 4,113
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
Sep. 28, 2016 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,046
One of biggest questions about Big Data is “How do we harness all that information for business use quickly and effectively?” Geographic Information Systems (GIS) or spatial technology is about more than making maps, but adding critical context and meaning to data of all types, coming from all different channels – even sensors. In his session at @ThingsExpo, William (Bill) Meehan, director of utility solutions for Esri, will take a closer look at the current state of spatial technology and ar...
Sep. 28, 2016 12:20 PM EDT Reads: 195