Mind-controlled exoskeleton to help youth kick off 2014 World Cup

The world of professional sports isn't necessarily the first place we'd want to see mind-control, but at this year's World Cup, at least one person on the field will be moving things with their mind. As the World Cup kicks off, a teenager paralyzed from the waist down will use a mind-controlled exoskeleton to take the ceremonial first kick.

The exoskeleton is part of Duke University' Walk Again Project, which aims to get paralyzed teens walking again. Since the patients receiving the exoskeletons can't send nerve signals to their legs, operating their lower limbs will instead be enabled through the use of a mind-reading headset. Brain waves detected through the patient's scalp will be sent wirelessly to the exoskeleton, which will then move accordingly.

Nobody has been chosen for the honor of robo-kicking off the World Cup just yet, but the eventual honoree will be from a small pool of pre-approved patients, and then trained in how to properly operate the exoskeleton. Someday, exoskeletons like this might be capable of returning signals to the brain as well, enabling their wearers to sense their robotic limbs just like a traditional pair of legs. By then, maybe exoskeleton-wearing folks will be wearing jerseys and making plays on top of that ceremonial first kick.

Duke, via Gizmodo

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