Mind-controlled exoskeleton will kick start World Cup

The star of the World Cup may not be able to bend it like Beckham, but they might be able to kick a ball using the power of their mind, writes New Scientist.

Miguel Nicolelis - exoskeleton

If all goes to plan, a paralysed young adult will use an exoskeleton controlled by their thoughts to take the first kick of the football tournament in Thursday’s opening ceremony in São Paulo, Brazil. The exoskeleton belongs to the Walk Again Project, an international collaboration using technology to overcome paralysis.

Since December, the project has been training eight paralysed people to use the suit, which supports the lower body and is controlled by brain activity detected by a cap of electrodes placed over the head. The brain signals are sent to a computer, which converts them into movement.

Lead robotic engineer Gordon Cheng, at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, says that there is a phenomenal amount of technology within the exoskeleton, including sensors that feed information about pressure and temperature back to the arms of the user, which still have sensation. The team hopes this will replicate to some extent the feeling of kicking a ball.

The exoskeleton isn’t the only technology on show in Brazil. FIFA has announced that fans will decide who is man of the match by voting for their favourite player on Twitter during the second half of each game using #ManOfTheMatch.

Syndicated content: New Scientist staff

Image: Miguel Nicolelis


One comment

  1. However impressive this exoskeleton demonstration is, remember that for Brain-Machine Interface technology in paralysis this is just the beginning http://speakingofresearch.com/2014/06/12/kick-off-a-new-era-for-neuroprosthetics-or-just-the-warm-up/

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