What is Biomechatronics?
Biomechatronics is the interdisciplinary study of biology, mechanics, electronics and control. It focuses on the research and design of assistive, therapeutic and diagnostic devices to compensate (partially) for the loss of human physiological functions or to enhance these functions. (Source: University of Twente)
Bionics and Biomechatronics are currently being studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab under the supervision of Professor Hugh Herr, a double amputee with two bionic legs. It was Hugh Herr’s 2010 Ted Talk (first video below) that bolstered my confidence that my ambition for creating an institute specializing in the development of advance prosthetics and medical imaging equipment was possible. I was further convinced when I saw his updated video in 2016. (second video below)
Why am I interested in Biomechatronics?
Originally, my interest in the field centered around building advanced prosthesis and weapons. I share some of my designs under the ZABER page. This is still my medium term cause for studying the field. However my interests, and vision, have grown, much in alignment with the growth seen in technology itself. Aside from my genuine interest in the separate fields that constitute Biomechatronics (Biology, Mechanics, Electronics) I feel there will come a day when all humans will want to venture into environments beyond the borders of earth, environs for which we are not currently conditioned. In fact, we have been doing so ever since we migrated from living in caves. We have dived to the depths of the ocean, climbed to the highest peaks and liberated ourself from the planes of the Earth.
We have gone to the moon and have built a residence in the Earth’s orbit (The International Space Station). However, humans have yet to visit another planet. We are still not an interplanetary species. I believe that within a couple centuries, humans will be using space ships in much the same way that we currently use air planes. I am not alone in this belief, billionaires Paul Allen, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Richard Branson (Branson, by the way, has a Centre for Entrepreneurship in Kingston, Jamaica) have started companies aimed at commercialising space travel. The natural next step is interplanetary travel, if only as an experience (much like diving or mountain climbing).
The problem however is that humans are not adapted to the harsh environments existent on other planets. Indeed, we are not adapted to the harsh environments that exist on our own planet. My interest in biomechatronics expanded to enabling humans to survive in these environments with minimal assistance from external technology (diving and space suits) and to enjoy the experiences they will have have to their fullest. Imagine a day where humans can skydive without a parachute, or dive to see the titanic without an oxygen tank, imagine a day when we can climb the Everest without an oxygen mask or play sports on the surface of the moon. These are the possibilities we speak of when we talk about Biomechatronics.
Some useful links:
- MIT Media Lab
- IEEE Papers on Biomechatronics
- University of Twene
- Biomechatronics Lab – Imperial College of London
- Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering – Tohoku Univerity, Japan
- Osaka Institute of Technology – Department of Biomedical Engineering
More Links will be added as I learn more.