A 1970s American television show, called The Six Million Dollar Man, showcased a bionically enhanced protagonist battling villains with his artificially enhanced abilities.
At that time it was pure science fiction. Today, thanks to advances and innovations in biologically inspired engineering, it is becoming a reality.
Today, there are several companies offering exoskeleton suits designed to reduce and prevent workplace injuries.
The suits are designed and promoted as a way to reduce fatigue, increase productivity, and support critical joints in the body, including the lower back, shoulders, and arms.
The manufacturers claim their suits support the musculoskeletal system to relieve strain, and can lead to increased productivity and reduced costs.
They base their claims on reducing the number of days of missed work due to musculoskeletal disorders, such as back pain and strain.
A company called Psyonic is offering a prosthetic hand that provides haptic feedback to the user. It lets them feel what they are doing. This feedback is provided by sensors in the fingertips and allows the user to work with delicate objects.
The founder and CEO of Psyonic expects that in the next ten years, their devices will seamlessly integrate with the human neuromuscular system.
The Utah Bionic Leg is a computerised and motorised prosthetic leg for amputees. It is powered and can help amputees recover the ability to walk normally.
The leg uses custom-designed sensors and other high-tech tech to help determine the leg’s position. Combined with new controller technology this enables the prosthesis to closely replicate what a biological leg would do in similar situations.
It allows the user to walk, stand-up, sit-down and climb and descend stairs and ramps.
The leg incorporates a robotic knee and ankle joint as well as a robotic toe joint to provide more stability and comfort while walking.
These bionically enhanced prosthetics are also capable of tracking and gathering data for collection by artificial intelligence systems to further analyse and improve prosthetic performance.
Existing Limb Enhancement
For many non-amputees, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis make their hands and knees almost non-functional. As of 2020, it was estimated that over 17.6 million people suffered from RA on a worldwide basis.
A company called Bionicare provides a non-invasive, non-drug treatment option for osteoarthritis of the knee and rheumatoid arthritis of the hand.
Their systems provide an electrical signal that stimulates the joint tissue to reduce the pain and symptoms of arthritis. They also help to maintain the health of the knee joint and improve the function of the hand.
They operate on the theory that a diminished electrical to the joint contributes to its deterioration, and onset of disease.
Of course, before you run out to get a bionically powered body part, do your research. Speak to your physician and check with the Department of Health for updates and regulations regarding this new technology.
These new devices are meeting the challenges posed by previous non-bionic prosthetics of discomfort, heaviness, and problems with functionality.
Over time there will be even more advances that allow artificial bionic body parts to function and resemble natural body parts.