May the Force be with you, literally. Ideas introduced in Star Wars movies are leading to technological breakthroughs in real life. Two such examples include prosthetic design and developments in neuroscience. What’s more, some of these technological developments are actually being advanced, in part, by the same company that currently makes the Star Wars movies, Disney. OLIVIER OULLIER writing in Forbes, has firsthand knowledge of how this is taking place.
“Star Wars” and The Walt Disney Co. (which now owns the rights to the franchise) are no longer just inspiring innovation in prosthetic limbs: They are actually actively contributing to it. Open Bionics, a leading company in the field of 3D-printed, low-cost prosthetic limbs, happens to be in the 2015 class of Disney Accelerator companies to which EMOTIV, the company I now work for, also belongs. Open Bionics is commercializing Star Wars-inspired robotic hands designed in collaboration with Industrial Light & Magic, the Academy Award-winning company founded by George Lucas that creates the special effects in “Star Wars” movies. How cool is that?
Not only is the technology cutting edge and affordable, but the design makes kids proud of their prosthetics. As if this were not enough, Disney is donating the time of its creative teams and providing royalty-free licenses. Star Wars-related prosthetics can therefore be life changing for the millions of people worldwide who have lost a limb, 2 million of whom live in the US. This number is expected to double by 2050 because of diabetes and vascular diseases, according to the Amputee Coalition……
Today, neurotechnologies can turn each of us into Jedis. All you need is a brain-computer interface (BCI). Here’s the recipe: First, you need a brain. Then, add sensors allowing the real time monitoring of brain waves, and couple those with software that can identify patterns of brain activity and convert them into mental commands that are transmitted to the devices you want to control. It’s actually not that complicated. Scientific labs around the world have developed systems that allow users to control video game characters, move robotic arms or type messages without moving a finger. This kind of BCI actually goes one step further than the prosthetics discussed earlier. Any connected object can be remotely controlled, without being physically attached to a person.