As the world prepares for the 2016 Paralympics, another, less well-known event is about to take place for the first time in history: The Cybathlon, also known as the cyborg Olympics.
The event will be held in a stadium in Zurich, Switzerland this October.
How Do They Differ from the Paralympics?
Yes, the disability community already has the Paralympics, but while the worldwide competition bans motorized equipment, the Cybathlon embraces it.
In many Paralympic events, athletes rely upon their body’s own strength to compete. In the Cybathlon, athletes are encouraged to create and use a multitude of devices to help them compete. From electrical stimulation systems that move paralyzed limbs to electric limbs themselves, the idea of the Cybathlon is to find new and inventive ways to help people with disabilities confront numerous tasks.
More than Just a Competition
The Cybathlon is more than a mere sports competition: it is a gathering of scientists and inventors set on creating devices that help people with disabilities. By inviting people in academia to build these devices, the creators of the event hope to bring about new innovations into the industry.
One of the more peculiar events will involve participants who use brain-computer interfaces to maneuver digital avatars through certain challenges. Over the years, mind-controlled wheelchair technology has been advancing rather quickly, so this is likely to be an event that has an impact on the everything from wheelchairs to wheelchair vans, as both could one day be piloted by the user’s thoughts alone.
Moving Towards the Future
If the event in Zurich is successful, the next Cybathlon will take place in Tokyo in 2020. As of now, it is planned as a 7-day event that will coincide with the 2020 Olympics, which are also scheduled to be held in Tokyo.
Here’s to hoping that some really great technologies emerge from future Cybathlons.
What do you think? Will the Cybathlon be a one or two-time event, or will it become a revolutionary event that people look forward to over the years? Join the conversation by commenting below!