The first ceremonial kick of in the 2014 World Cup game (Brazil 2014) may be made by a paralyzed teenager, who, flanked by the two contending soccer teams, will saunter onto the pitch clad in a robotic body suit or exoskeleton.
The candidate teenager will be trained to control the technology that will eventually allow them to kick the ball at the world cup. They will do this by wearing a non-invasive headpiece that detects brain waves.
The robotic body suit is designed as part of the Walk Again Project. a nonprofit, international collaboration among the Duke University Center for Neuroengineering, the Technical University of Munich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, the Edmond and Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal in Brazil, The University of California, Davis, The University of Kentucky, and Regis Kopper of The Duke immersive Virtual Environment.
Gordon Cheng the Professor and Chair of Cognitive Systems, Founder and Director of the Institute for Cognitive Systems (ICS), Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology, Technical University Munich, Munich, Germany explained: the team hopes to incorporate sensors into the exoskeleton that feed information about touch, temperature and force back to the wearer. That feedback will come through a visual display or a vibrating motor.
“The vibrations can replicate the sensation of touching the ground, rolling off the toe and kicking off again.” The challenge will be to match those sensations to the brain patterns and movements. “There’s so much detail in this, it’s phenomenal,” he says.
More information about the Walk Again Project can be found in this Washington Post article.