Sunday, December 26, 2010

Colin Furze Creates World's Fastest Scooter

Colin Furze, a British stuntman and filmmaker, has set a speed record in a scooter.  By fitting a 125cc motor and 5 speed transmission from a motorcycle, the scooter has been clocked traveling at a speed of over 70 mph down a 1/4 mile drag strip.  The feat that is more impressive is that the scooter still remains relatively little changed in its appearance.  Check out the clip.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Haidar Taleb Attempts 200 Mile Trip in Solar-Powered Wheelchair

Haidar Taleb, a disabled 47-year-old from the United Arab Emerites, is embarking on a record-breaking 200 mile voyage across the desert in a solar-powered wheelchair that he designed and built himself. "With this journey I hope to raise awareness of disability and sustainability as well as what we can achieve as individuals if we have the courage and determination to try," he says.

For Haidar, who has been confined to a wheelchair since he was diagnosed with polio at the age of four, this scheduled 11-day journey is aimed at touting the wonders of technological innovation and the unrelenting determination of the human spirit -- particularly for those who may face mobility challenges similar to his own.

"I want to send out a message to disabled people that there are no obstructions. Whatever you think about, you can do," he says. "Give disabled people a chance and they can perform miracles."

Along the 200 mile trip across all seven emirates, Haidar plans to stop at schools, universities, and centers for the disabled to share his inspiring message, reports Gulf News. And, by the time his ambitious trek is completed on December 2, he will have broken the record for distance traveled in a solar-powered wheelchair -- a record he set himself.

Haidar earned his place in the Guinness Book of World Records for taking his specially-designed wheelchair on another adventure, cruising over 80 miles during a 14 hour trip from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah at speeds of around 12 mph. His endeavor was sponsored by UAE-based Madsar, an initiative aimed at advancing research into alternative energy solutions.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Malin Grummas' ICIO

When an efficient means of mobility can enhance the independence, activeness and responsibility of senior citizens, why not offering them ICIO, an innovative transportation solution concept specially designed for senior communities to meet all their most cherished needs. Considering the more they will remain active, the more they will be healthy, the general sense of undervaluing senior citizens can be eliminated which also would contribute to the development of the society. Besides, this concept helps people who are having difficulties and are unhindered to walk, carrying them from one place to another efficiently. Also, if the user wants to have a walk, he or she can be aided with ICIO by transforming it into a walker-size product. More images after the jump.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Permobil X850: Most Car-like Wheelchair Ever?

The clip above is from Permobil showcasing their X850 wheelchair.  The interesting thing about this wheelchair is the striking similarities this wheelchair is to a car.  The steering and many of its driving characteristics are essentially the same as a car, albeit on a smaller scale.  There are also headlights, taillights, and turn signals which all happen to be required on European wheelchairs since, in some countries, wheelchairs are classified as vehicles.  Even the commercial Permobil has done for this wheelchair is similar to many car commercials.  Amazing.  Check out the clip and enjoy!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rowheel Allows One To "Pull" Instead of "Push" Chair Forward

Wheelchairs have a basic problem because the occupant must push the wheels forward to turn the chair’s wheels, but this action is physically stressful on the anterior deltoid muscles in the shoulder and the triceps and flexor carpi muscles in the arms. Using these smaller and relatively weak muscles can result in muscle and joint pain and degredation, torn rotor cuffs, repetitive stress injury, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Now a new wheelchair, the Rowheel System, uses the much more natural pulling (i.e. rowing) motion to move the chair forward.  More info and images after the jump.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

2011 Toyota Sienna Conversion By BraunAbility

BraunAbility has recently released their conversion for the new 2011 Toyota Sienna.  The latest conversion for this popular vehicle has spawned a new XT conversion that has allowed for additional interior height to allow the wheelchair user to sit at the same eye level as the traditional seated passengers which has traditionally been a difficult achievement in lowered floor minivans.  From the perspective of the wheelchair user driving the Sienna, the lower position offered by the XT conversion will allow the driver to feel more like they are sitting in the vehicle as opposed to sitting on top of the vehicle since the lower position will place the driver's eye level more at the middle of the windshield instead of closer to the top of the it.

Other innovations are the placement of the spare tire, now located in a hidden well under the back of the third row.  This provides a clear and unobstructed cargo area which was not possible with the previous Sienna conversion.  There is also a retractable footrest for the backseat passengers to aide in comfort.  As with all BraunAbility vehicles, there are the traditional rails for tie-downs and the usual features that make this conversion beneficial to its owner.  Personally, I am partial to the Sienna SE conversion that is pictured above.  It is quite a nice looking "Swagger Wagon".

Friday, September 24, 2010

Brain Controlled Wheelchair Equipped With AI

They are certainly not first to try their hand at a brain-controlled wheelchair, but some researchers at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (or EPFL) in Switzerland seem to have pulled off a few new tricks with their latest project. Like some similar systems, this one relies on EEG readings to detect specific brain patterns, but it backs that up with some artificial intelligence, allowing for "shared control" of the wheelchair. That latter component is aided by a pair of cameras and some image processing software that allows the wheelchair to avoid obstacles, but it does not stop there: the software is capable of distinguishing different types of objects. According to the researchers, that could let it go around a cabinet but pull up underneath a desk, for instance, or potentially even recognize the person's own desk and avoid others.  Check out the Youtube clip above.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Chair That Can Follow People

Researchers at Saitama University's Human-Robot Interaction Center have developed a wheelchair equipped with a camera and a laser sensor that locks onto a nearby human companion and follows them around. It can even anticipate the direction the person is going to go by using a distance sensor to check which way their shoulders are facing. There is no news as to when a commercial version will be available, but the wheelchair is already being field-tested in care centers, where the researchers say it could be particularly useful if the facilities are short-staffed.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wheelchair Controlled Using Wii Balance Board

The Ithaca College Tots on Bots project aims to mobilize infants with physical disabilities by setting them atop a "mobile robot" equipped with a Wii Balance Board to let the young operator steer by leaning which, it turns out, works quite effectively. Additionally, the vehicle uses sonar to avoid nasty crashes and a remote control that an adult can use to take control. Further study has to be made before any long term developmental benefits can be ascertained, but in the meantime it does look like a lot of fun.  Watch another clip after the jump.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Aaron Fotheringham's Bible Flip

What is better than a wheelchair backflip?  How about a DOUBLE wheelchair backflip!  Aaron Fotheringham has managed, with much difficultly, to successfully perform a double backflip in his wheelchair.  It is a trick that is difficult enough for the Hardcore Sitter to nickname it the "Bible Flip" since it "takes a whole lot of faith to throw a double."  Enjoy the clip!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rex, by Rex Bionics

The clip above is of wheelchair user Hayden Allen using an exoskeletal set of legs called Rex.  Developed by Rex Bionics, this product essentially allows the user to simply transfer from one's wheelchair onto Rex and simply control the legs via a joystick and leaning.  As you can see in the clip, this set of legs has transformed Hayden's life in more ways than one.  Hit the jump to see another clip of Rex and Hayden.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hip Hop Dancer Vinod Thakur On "India's Got Talent"

The following Youtube clip is of Vinod Thakur, a 21 year old cell phone technician from India.  As you can see in the clip, he does an amazing hip hop routine for "India's Got Talent" despite the fact that he started learning hip hop dancing 3 months prior to the show.  The fact that he is a double leg amputee does not appear to stop him one bit.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Kemcare 6X6 All-Terrain Wheelchair

Looking like a cross between an ATV and a wheelchair, the 6X6 Explorer, built by Kemcare, is a unique design that is intended specifically for those who like to venture into harsh terrain such as forests and beaches.  Water and mud do not seem to stop this chair as its 6 wheel setup provides much more traction than a standard chair while maintaining maneuverability.  Should you happen to get this chair stuck, it is equipped with a 2500 lb. winch that can be used to get you out.  Check out the Youtube clip to see this chair in action.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tim Leeding's e.d.g.e. Concept Wheelchair Blends Function and Style

Tim Leeding's e.d.g.e Wheelchair Concept is an innovative, fresh, manual standing wheelchair, aimed at taking the stale aesthetics of wheelchair design forward. The chair allows the user many personalisation options, to ensure that their chair, like your shoes or your car, becomes an outward expression of their personality.

As well as this, the chair features easy drive handles, with different gearing options to promote accessibility and combat shoulder injury, caused by the traditional wheeling technique. These handles can also be used to elevate the user in seconds, alleviating pressure sores, increasing reach capabilities and closing social boundaries which inhibit the lives of the disabled day to day. More images after the jump.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

DARPA's Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Arm Ready For Human Trials

Pentagon-backed scientists are getting ready to test thought-controlled prosthetic arms on human subjects, by rewiring their brains to fully integrate the artificial limbs.

Already in recent years, we have seen very lifelike artificial arms, monkeys nibbling bananas with mind-controlled robotic limbs, and even humans whose muscle fibers have been wired to prosthetic devices. But this is the first time that human brains will be opened up, implanted with a neural interface, and then used to operate an artificial limb.

It is a giant step that will transform the devices, which were little more than hooks and cables only 50 years ago. And the progress is courtesy of Darpa, the Pentagon's far-out R&D agency, who've been sponsoring brain-controlled replacement limbs as part of their Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program.

A team of scientists at Johns Hopkins, who have been behind much of Darpa's prosthetic progress thus far, have received a $34.5 million contract from the agency to manage the next stages of the project. Researchers will test the Modular Prosthetic Limb (MPL) on a human. The test subject's thoughts will control the arm, which "offers 22 degrees of motion, including independent movement of each finger," provides feedback that essentially restores a sense of touch, and weighs around nine pounds. That's about the same weight as a human arm.

The prosthetic will rely on micro-arrays, implanted into the brain, that record signals and transmit them to the device. It is a similar design to that of the freaky monkey mind-control experiments, which have been ongoing at the University of Pittsburgh since at least 2004.

Within two years, Johns Hopkins scientists plan to test the prosthetic in five patients. And those researchers, alongside a Darpa-funded consortium from Caltech, University of Pittsburgh, University of Utah and the University of Chicago, also hope to expand prosthetic abilities to incorporate pressure and touch.

"The goal is to enable the user to more effectively control movements to perform everyday tasks, such as picking up and holding a cup of coffee," Michael McLoughlin, the project's program manager, says.

In other words, prosthetic arms that are remarkably similar to the real thing. But the long-term caliber of the MPL arm remains an open question. Just three months ago,Darpa launched a new program to overcome several problems with neuro-prosthetic models - most notably, the two-year lifespan of those implanted neural recording devices.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Richard Stark's Neptune Prosthetic Fin

Even though Nelson Cardona from Colombia is physically disabled, he was able to reach up to the top of the Everest with the help of prosthetic legs. After this huge success, if Cardona starts pursuing his another dream to cross the English Channel, do you think using his same prosthetic leg would be an ideal choice? Of course not. Neptune is a simple, stylish and easy adoptable swimming aid concept that can be suited in 3 most usual types of amputations and provide ultimate support for swimming by using a standard silicone liner with a mounted cup to ensure even distribution of force from the tip to the leg. The fin remains attached to the cup that can rotate up to 90°, ensuring efficient breaststroke swimming. Additionally, spontaneous and uncoordinated action is being achieved by the 360° movement of the fin. Adjusting the strength of the fin is done by a slider.  More images after the jump.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fourcross Introduction

The following Youtube clips are introduction videos for Fourcross.  In simple terms, it is the wheelchair version of mountain biking.  Unlike many wheelchair sports, this is a sport that is being pitched to able-bodied people in addition to the disabled.  Enjoy the clip and view the second part to this video after the jump.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Robert Reyes' Ugo Concept Provides Unassisted Mobility to CP Kids

Children who are suffering from Cerebral Palsy require special support formoving around and correcting their body postures since the disease limits their control over muscles. Ugo concept is a tool that gives children freedom of those movements that they are unable to do their own. It contains a padded saddle seat that can be adjusted to the required height with the help of the integrated motor to facilitate the child walking on the street with a correct posture or enter and exit the seat by their own without any assistance. Operating of the concept is done via a remote control that enables children to select the direction they want to move. Moreover, a range of accessories come with the concept that aid to attach a footrest or tables with the seat for added convenience.  More images after the jump.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bob Gullickson's Rocket(!)-Powered Wheelchair

"Rocket" Bob Gullickson, a paraplegic from Forest Lake, MN, is building quite possibly one of the fastest wheelchairs ever created.  Using a custom-designed and built wheelchair, he will place 2 Hydrogen Peroxide rockets(!) to the wheelchair in a record-setting attempt to exceed 100 mph.  The attempt will be made around Labor Day weekend at Brainerd International Raceway during The Muscle Car Shootout event right before the drag race finals.  Another picture of the chair after the jump.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

METIS Concept For Prosthetic Arm

The long deserted issue, the human body, has come across the industrial designer’s path, resulting the innovative and functional METIS concept that has been designed to redefine the future of human. Being connected with the human nervous system, this prosthesis concept can provide an amputee his access to the existing virtual dimensions around us by giving back his limb. Moreover, only if you can overlook the reality of a flesh and blood hand, this prosthesis features more advanced technologies than a real hand such as 360 degrees rotating ability of the arm, 3G, Wi-Fi, LCD display and rechargeable lithium-ion batteries to power the electric elements. With all these functional features, who knows, maybe future people will consider altering their real hand with METIS. More images after the jump.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Unicab: NYC's Future Taxi?

A couple of years have passed now since the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) announced its search for a vehicle that would replace the taxis of New York City with something that better fits the times. The TLC created a website for creative types to submit ideas for the "Taxi of Tomorrow," and one of the more interesting proposals to come in over the last couple of years is something called the UniCab.

The groundwork for NYC's Taxi of Tomorrow is quite simple: 

    • Meets highest safety standards
    • Superior passenger experience
    • Superior driver comfort and amenities
    • Appropriate purchase price and ongoing maintenance and repair costs
    • Smaller environmental footprint (lower emissions and improved fuel economy)
    • Smaller physical footprint (with more usable interior room)
    • Compliance with appropriate Americans with Disabilities Act requirements
    • Iconic design that will identify the new taxi with New York City
Born out of those guidelines, the UniCab looks nothing like a traditional taxi, aside from the yellow color. The UniCab features seating for four passengers, an automated ramp for those with disabilities, an infotainment center that displays intended routes and attractions along the way and outward sight lines that allow all of the passengers to get a great view of the glorious city of New York. Though nothing more than a design sketch right now, the UniCab could change our perception of taxis in the future and make hailing a cab the hip, green thing to do.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Time To Shine: Disabled Actors In Mainstream TV Shows

The following is an article currently on NPR's website that highlights a wonderful trend that is steadily growing: disabled actors in mainstream television.  This is something that hopefully will continue to occur. Hit the jump to see more.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Aaron Fotheringham's Insane New Trick

Hardcore Sitter Trailblazer Aaron Fotheringham has accomplished a new trick that is a variation of his signature move, the wheelchair backflip.  The clip above speaks for itself.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Touch Bionics Releases Two New Prosthetic Fingers

Touch Bionics has released a pair of superbly sensitive prosthetic fingers devices that are the latest in assistive technology for finger and arm amputees. More information after the jump.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Stay Safe! Wheelchair-Vehicle Standards To Look For

If you drive or are a passenger in a car seated in your wheelchair, knowing how your car would perform in a crash test may save you from being injured in a crash, if not save your life. The “wheelchair-vehicle interface,” that is, how well-suited your wheelchair is to your car from a perspective of safety, stability, and convenience, is a basic consideration of adaptive driving, for example, with a wheelchair vans. To ensure that your wheelchair car or van is a safe as possible, you’ll want to know how your chair does in a crash test.  More info after the jump.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Paralyzed Limbs Revived By Hacking Nerves

A Neural Engineer from Case Western Reserve University, Matthew Schiefer, has developed a brilliant workaround for spinal cord injuries, and it may someday let paraplegics activate their legs just by pushing a button.  More after the jump.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Get Your Dance On: US Wheelchair Dance Schools

Integrated sport dance companies pair people in wheelchairs with able-bodied dance partners. Those involved in wheelchair dance sport say they are inspired, feel more confident and some even report they need less physical therapy. After the jump are some of the most well-known integrated wheelchair dance sport organizations in the United States.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kia Soul Wheelchair Conversion

For those looking into a new vehicle, Freedom Motors has created a rear-entry conversion for the Kia Soul.    As you can see in the clip above, much of the styling of this vehicle has ben retained and their is an abundance of room to fit a wheelchair in the back of the car.  The rear door and ramp can be manually operated or powered with the option of a transfer seat for the driver.  The major note of interest is that this appears to be an Australian-specification Kia Soul with no indication that this conversion will be considered in the United States.  If this conversion was available in the US, it could serve as a nice alternative to the Scion xB conversion.  Check out the clip and enjoy!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Power Is In Your Hand: Glove Mouse

The following clip is of a developmental prototype of a computer mouse that uses the entire hand as the mouse itself, which could prove beneficial for those with issues using a traditional mouse.  It utilizes components from an old laser mouse and, as you can see in the clip, retains many of the basic functions of a normal mouse.  All you need is a flat surface to rest your hand on, just like a normal mouse.  While there is still some packaging and other functions to add, such as the scrollwheel, this is a wonderful development of a product that could be beneficial to many people.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Powerchair Made Retro

The clip above is of a very unique take on a powerchair.  The creator has modified an existing Permobil powerchair in a way that, in essence, presents what a steam-powered wheelchair concept could possibly look like.  While this chair is merely a prop and the creator admits that this was not intended for any disability-related purpose, it does exhibit a very unique twist on how one can make their powerchair unique.  Check out the clip and enjoy! 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Stryder Hybrid Crutch

The Stryder hybrid crutch has been innovatively designed to perform as a knee scooter for non-weight bearing legs caused by lower leg injury. This crutch provides greater movement efficiency to the users, while ensures lesser strain and tiredness on the body, especially in the wrists, hands, axils and chest wall than the traditional crutches generate while using it. Moreover, this knee scooter can enhance the commuting speed as well in urban environment. The parts of Stryder have been designed to be durable that can be replaced easily in case of broken and the adjustable height makes it a perfect fit for people of 16 to 45 years old. The frame has been made of aluminum and high impact acrylic, and the knee pad and polyurethane coated handles can offer a comfortable grip. When required, the knee scooter can be folded into a crutch to getting on and off public busses and navigate stairs. Another image after the jump.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Helping Hand Concept

The helping hand is an innovative concept device that can efficiently help a person who has lost functionality of his or her upper limp due to a stroke by effectively regaining control over the paralyzed arm or hand. By wearing it, the motionless limb can do everyday tasks like holding objects, eating, dressing and even writing. The technology is to transmitting signals from the human brain through a neuro-implant to control the device, which allows the user to move their hands, arms or fingers by simply thinking of any action. The electroactive polymer joints of the device make the movement of the limb more natural and friendly for the user. The straps are designed to take their positions automatically when the device is turned on. Moreover, the device gives user the option of putting on and taking off whenever they want by using one hand only.  More pics after the jump.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Happen To Be In Vancouver? Check Out The Winter Paralympics

When Turin wrapped its Olympics and passed the torch to Vancouver, BC at the closing ceremonies in 2006, here’s what I and half a billion other people saw: a handsome guy in a motorized wheelchair, centre stage, deftly waving a huge Canadian flag.  More after the jump.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Clay Egan's Jack'd Up

Jack'd Up is a show that mashes two athletes, one disabled, the other able-bodied, together to see what happens when two extreme people from completely different backgrounds come together.  More after the jump.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Nomad Wheelchair Concept Shows That Wheelchairs Can Be Beautiful

There are many who consider a wheelchair as nothing more than an appliance or a medical device and not something that can be considered as a thing of beauty.  Luckily, the designer of this Nomad Wheelchair Concept is not one of those people.  Just look at how the simple elegance and beauty of this wheelchair can transform a mere medical device into something stylish and sophisticated.  More information after the jump.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Next Generation X30 Wheelchair Makes Transferring Easy

The X30 wheelchair has been designed keeping in mind the strain that the physically challenged have to undergo in situation where there is no help in hand. Designed by Danish designer Ulrik Svenningsen, the design helps in reducing the strain in hands, and shoulder which some times leads to injuries to them and also puts the device for long term use and improves comfort and mobility. Also these wheelchairs are strong, long lasting and easier to maneuver while going up the inclined surfaces and ramps etc. and also address the issue of transferring the user to and from the wheelchair. Definitely a touching thought for a practical thought.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Wheelchair Wheels Light Up The Night

Wheelchairs would be dangerous for open ride especially when users go out during dark night. Designers Mingoo Kim, Yunjin Chang, and Sueun Park have come up with the “Roll Charge Light Protect” Project, an idea that demonstrates a concept wheelchair that has lights for other people to notice the wheelchair, offering a remarkable safety system. This lights get power from movements of the wheels, thus, it is a good way to save energy. There are a set of LEDs under the wheel cover that glows brightly during the night. A magnet is helping generating electricity by rotating and the generated electricity is conveyed by the Coil to the LEDs. The wheel and the magnet are bridged with a Gear, protected by a Small Cover. The LCD panel shows readings about remaining amount of electricity and how long the user will be able to use it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

wUnderglow Wheelchair Light

Using a wheelchair at night occasionally brings up the topic of night lighting. wUnderglow, a european based company, has developed a flashlight specifically for manual wheelchair users. As you can see in the clip above, it is a small, battery operated flashlight that has a clip to mount to any hardpoint or tubular area on the chair. It can serve as a flashlight to illuminate your way or used to make yourself more visible at night. If you are in the mood to have a little fun, you can even mount it so that it illuminates the bottom of your chair and set the light to flash in multicolor glory. This is a interesting idea that could be useful to many wheelchair users. Order your light here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lux Performance Developing Crippler II

As a follow-up to my previous post, the people at Lux Performance seem to have extra time during the racing off-season to develop a more powerful version of their uber-scooter, The Crippler.  Dubbed Crippler II, this version is being built with more power.  Lux Performance has released this statement:

"We threw the crippler together at the shop one day and instantly fell in love. Now it goes everywhere with us, turning heads, getting laughs, and maiming those who don't respect it. In fact, we've had so much fun with it, we've decided to build another. Crippler II is currently in development with 40% more torque (60 ft lbs) and an estimated speed of over 60 MPH. Too make matters even worse, we have decided that the world needs these things and are currently taking orders."

That is right.  You can buy this ultimate scooter.  The only question is whether insurance will cover the cost of purchasing this thing!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Crippler: When Your Scooter Isn't Fast Enough

There have been numerous posts on this blog of wheelchairs being fitted with powerful motors, gas or electric, to allow them to go fast.  But what if you use a scooter?  The people at Lux Performance, a race car team, managed to get their hands on a scooter and, being a race team and all, fitting dropped in a 48 volt Etek motor to create a scooter they call "The Crippler".  It transformed an ordinary scooter into a 40+ MPH, hill-climbing, wheelie-riding super scooter.  Check out the clip and see their results.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Toyota Debuts Auto Access Seats For 2011 Sienna

Toyota chose the 2010 Detroit Show to unveil an Auto Access Seat designed for use in the all-new 2011 Sienna minivan, which goes on sale in the States in February 2010. The Auto Access Seat offers owners a transportation solution for elderly and disabled passengers or for that matter, anyone who may need assistance getting in or out of a vehicle.

The seat, which features a one-touch operation and has a lift capacity of up to 330 lbs, rotates 90 degrees and can be lowered to within 19 inches of the ground to further facilitate easier passenger transfers at the exact height required. It also allows up to four inches of slide travel and reclining of up to 24 degrees once the passenger is inside the car.

While we've seen most Japanese automakers offering this option in their domestic market models, Toyota is the first automaker in North America to offer a factory-installed, rotating, power ascending/descending lift-up seat in of its vehicles.

The Auto Access Seat will be available on Sienna LE and XLE models with the seat fabric matching the vehicle interior fabric. Toyota said that it will come with a three-year/36,000 mile factory warranty.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Artificial Brain-Muscle Interface To End Paralysis?

Using a computerized connector between the brain and muscles in the body, scientists have been able to restore movement to paralyzed limbs. A group of neuroscientists report in Nature today that they used a brain-computer interface to join the motor cortex of an ape to the muscles in its wrist. After scientists paralyzed the ape's arm temporarily, it was still able to make its wrist move my sending electrical impulses directly from its brain to the muscles, bypassing the damaged nerves in between. The study has profound implications for people whose nerves have been severed or damaged, leaving them paralyzed.

What is particularly interesting about this research is that it shows the versatility of the motor cortex when combined with a brain-computer interface (BCI). Previous research showed that people could learn to move a cursor on screen by linking to specific areas of the motor cortex. This new study showed that any area of the motor cortex could be "repurposed" to activate muscles in the body via BCI.

Researchers say:

"Until now, brain-computer interfaces were designed to decode the activity of neurons known to be associated with movement of specific body parts. Here, the researchers discovered that any motor cortex cell, regardless of whether it had been previously associated with wrist movement, was capable of stimulating muscle activity. This finding greatly expands the potential number of neurons that could control signals for brain-computer interfaces and also illustrates the flexibility of the motor cortex."

Human implementations for the technology are at least a decade away, but this discovery could be a game-changer for dealing with paralysis. One possibility would be to connect the motor cortex with an area of the spine below an injury. Signals would be re-routed around the damaged spinal cord, and could allow the brain to regain control of the paralyzed body parts affected by the injury.