Category Archives: Prosthetics

You Gotta Have Sole

i am conor oleary

Image result for flyprint
(via TechCrunch)

In the last blog post I tried to give a sort of overview of the concept and the existing ideas around 3D-printing footwear.  So in this post I want to address how I’m travelling with the project, and do a bit of a deeper dive into the research and literature surrounding the topic.

How is the project coming along?

When I first laid out my ideas for the project I think I too heavily leaned on the process of me attempting to make a 3D-printed shoe sole, while neglecting the more interesting things like the existing technology and its implications for the future of footwear.

For me, learning how this technology can be made viable for wider implementation is the most interesting part.  I love all aspects of footwear, having worked in the industry at a retail and now corporate level.  So I can definitely appreciate the…

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Healthcare Robots

Since my last post discussing my interest in researching the future use of robots in mental health treatment, I have received feedback from the audience of the Future Cultures blog and Chris Moore which has lead to me altering the nature of my area of research to examining the use of robotics in the sphere of healthcare, in present day, whilst also speculating upon the potential future uses of robotics in the medical field, based upon representations in popular culture.

In this post, I will discuss the current state of robotics used in healthcare and the academic research shaping the future of medical robotics and share any newsworthy information related to the applications of healthcare robots.

A quick Wikipedia search reveals that there are several types of medical robots currently in use, these include:

Surgical Robots: robots capable of assisting or performing surgery

Rehabilitation Robots: robots like PARO who assist…

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The future of prostheses looks cool

Traditionally we tend to think of prostheses as being strictly attributed to the disabled and the impaired. Prostheses get a pretty bad wrap, they are thought of negatively, as a kind of supplement to the ‘natural’ human body – a second best. But there is a new space growing in contemporary society thanks to modern science and technology along with the help of the internet, a space where prosthetics are cool. Contemporary prosthetics and those of the future don’t just mock the ‘natural’ human body – they go beyond the constraints of it potentially making someone….superhuman?

In a pod cast ‘The Internet of Things’ which you can find here, Andreea Borcea talks about, among other things, A foot designed by MIT which adapts to an individual’s gate allowing them to walk ‘seamlessly’ – so to speak. She also mentions DARPA’s touch sensitive artificial prosthetics which are currently being developed (For more cool stuff about linking the body’s nervous system with a prosthetic I recommend that you have a geez at this Ted Talk by Todd Kuiken).

These contemporary technologies not only allow ‘disabled’ people to simulate the ‘natural’ body and ‘normalize’ their body, but they also work to breakdown the distinction between able-bodied and disabled. When a human being who has lost…say their left arm, has theability to do all the same things as another human being thanks to a bionic limb intervention, how can we say they are disabled?? To extend that thought, think about ‘natural’ human legs; they are stuck there, we are unable to change them. Think about someone with one or more prosthetic limbs, they have the potential and opportunity to change and adapt their limbs to suit certain circumstances and situations. Take a look and listen to Hugh Herr for example who has two bionic legs and is the project director for the Powered Ankle-Foot Prosthesis at MIT.

When we think about prosthetics like this, it becomes clear that the future of prosthetic technology will allow people to go beyond the constraints of the ‘organic’ human body. Can we really still label these people as disabled? Will it come to a point where it is fashionable to replace flesh and blood with metal and wires?