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This podcast's purpose is to bring together the field of neuroprosthetics / brain machine interfaces / brain implants in an understandable conversation about the current topics and breakthroughs. We hope to replace needing to read scientific papers on new research in an easy to digest way. Then people can share thoughts or ideas to facilitate 'idea sex' to make the field of brain implants a smaller and more personal space

May 18, 2020

Dr. Robert Riener is a professor at ETH Zurich in Switzerland. His research involves exoskeletons, brain-computer interfaces, and EEG. He is also in charge of running the Cybathlon in ETH Zurich, which is an Olympic-like event where patients with disabilities compete, using assistive robotic devices. In this episode, he discusses the Cybathlon, its events, and its goals and purpose.

Top three takeaways:

  1. The Cybathlon is a major athletic competition where the participants use assistive robotic devices and prosthetics to compete in the events, which are centered around daily life activities.
  2. The main purpose of the Cybathlon is to promote inclusion of people with disabilities.
  3. Most of the teams are developing specific technologies to participate in the Cybathlon, so this event has also helped spark a movement in creating new robotic technologies.

[0:00] Ladan introduces the episode and the guest, Dr. Robert Riener

[2:20] Riener discusses his research and how the robotic devices that he researches work

[6:30] Cybathlon is an athletic competition for disabled people who use robotic devices; there are several events including the brain-computer interface race

[9:00] Russia also enjoys this event, and is coordinating their own similar event. President Putin has stated that he is willing to organize the next international Cybathlon event in Russia in 2024.

[12:30] The most important goal of the Cybathlon is to support the inclusion of people with disabilities into athletic events

[15:00] The obstacle courses in the events are centered around daily life events; for example, an activity for patients with arm prosthetics may involve the use of the BCI arm to manipulate and carry objects

[18:30] The awards in the competition include not only a medal and a cup, but also the honor of participating, and the “Swiss experience”

[21:00] “Techno-doping” is approved, and even encouraged, as long as it is done in a safe manner

[25:00] About 80% of the teams competing in the Cybathlon are developing completely new technologies, or are updating existing technologies

[28:20] This could be the biggest brain-computer interface event that’s ever happened