They are more than meets the eye! An amazing technology-based Olympic style sporting event, called the Cybathlon, will take place in Switzerland in 2016. These games will allow Parathletes to use technology, including robotics, in order to compete.
The Cybathlon will feature ‘pilots’ (parathletes) who will be equipped with powered wheelchairs, limb prosthetics, powered exoskeletons, electrically stimulated muscles or any other new and innovative idea to help parathletes to compete. Each device can include any product commercially made already or prototypes developed in research labs.
There will be two medals awarded for each competition; the first will go to the athlete themselves (the pilot), and the other will go to the creator of the device. The event will be organised on behalf of the Swiss National Competence Centre of Research in Robotics (NCCR Robotics) and it sounds like a very interesting and exciting competition.
What are the main reasons the Cybathlon was started? For one, new assistive systems can be promoted. Another reason is to increase public awareness of assistive technologies that are available to those who need them. More importantly, the games allows those people with disabilities to compete in challenging races.
The opportunities and potential in this field are endless. Parathletes who want to participate in sporting events now have another avenue to travel down. An opportunity for new technology to be trialled and put to the test also allows those people with disabilities to try assistive technology they may have never had the opportunity to try before. The more people know about it, the better it will be as it will allow people to become educated about the challenges parathletes face. Perhaps some of these technologies will filter down to non-athletes. Thus allowing more people to try the products.
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[Image via cybathlon]