World's First Bionic Olympics Geared Up

Next month contestants from across the world using robotic exoskeletons, electronic arms, powered wheelchairs and other tech will take part in the world’s first bionic Olympics.

The event will be held near Zurich and will highlight how people with physical disabilities can be helped by novel technological aids.

50 teams will take part from across the world, including six from the UK.

Named the Cybathlon, the event has been organised by the Swiss university ETH Zurich.

One of its goals is to encourage engineers to create assistive products that better suit people with disabilities.

Ana Matran-Fernandez, a team leader at the University of Essex, said: "The problem is most of the research is with able-bodied users.

"But our brains rewire. If someone like David has not been able to move their legs for years that part of the brain will be doing something else.

"It's very hard to get people with that level of disability to come to the lab and do these very long training sessions. The Cybathlon has provided a reason to do that.

"Thanks to this competition we have built a brain-computer interface, which can recognise different commands so it could be used to control a wheelchair to move forward, left or right." 

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