Bladerunner races Horse in posthuman spectacle

Posted by on December 12th, 2012
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Because you need to be a spy agency to see the immediate future is looking very transhuman:

In the new report, the NIC describes how implants, prosthetics, and powered exoskeletons will become regular fixtures of human life — what could result in substantial improvements to innate human capacities.

The entire report can be read here.


This is not how the world ends

Posted by on August 16th, 2012

Images link to source or higher rez where available. Your favourite Zeitgeist images, put them in the comments.


paralysed woman completes London Marathon in bionic suit after 16 days

Posted by on May 9th, 2012

From Yahoo!News:

Paralysed Claire Lomas has completed the London Marathon in a bionic suit 16 days after she began the race.

The 32-year-old was paralysed from the chest down following a horse riding accident five years ago, but with the aid of the limited movement of the suit she was able to negotiate the course at a rate of a couple of miles a day.

She crossed the line after 26.2 miles in front of a crowd of onlookers including her husband and 13-month-old daughter, and in the process became the first person in history to complete the marathon using a bionic ReWalk suit.


and Da Vinci wept (#WINGS)

Posted by on March 20th, 2012

Maybe it’s a real angel with fake wings – LIFE

WINGS… who doesn’t want them? Now you can upgrade from the expensive, cosmetic pretties to this, thanks to WIRED:

Using videogame controllers, an Android phone and custom-built wings, a Dutch engineer named Jarno Smeets has achieved birdlike flight.

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According to Smeets’ calculations, he needed approximately 2,000 Watts of continuous power to support his roughly 180-pound frame and 40-pound wing pack. His arms could only really provide 5 percent of that, so the rest would have to come from motors. His arms and pecs would basically serve to guide the device and to flap the wings.

He built his electronic, wireless wing set out of Wii controllers, accelerometers harvested from an HTC Wildfire Android phone and Turnigy motors.

When he landed after the 60-second flight, he said, “At one moment you see the ground moving away, and then suddenly you’re free, a really intense feeling of freedom. The true feeling of flying. A [bleep] magical moment. The best feeling I have felt in my life.”

Well, only if you’re brave enough.

(Interesting to see wing-less angels being part of the plot of The River too)

UPDATE – as was suspected by many, this was a hoax. This doesn’t mean Wing Culture isn’t a fascinating opposition to Drone Culture.


Telekinetic Boarding (sport of the futurepresent)

Posted by on February 22nd, 2012
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Read the how & the who at Engadget…


Coming soon: liquid oxygen breathing suits

Posted by on December 15th, 2010
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Remember that scene from The Abyss, well it’s coming soon to a reality near you.

Here’s The Independent, with more details:

Arnold Lande, a retired American heart and lung surgeon, has patented a scuba suit that would allow a human to breathe “liquid air”, a special solution that has been highly enriched with oxygen molecules.

Lande envisages a scuba suit that would allow divers to inhale highly-oxygenated perfluorocarbons (PFCs) – a type of liquid that can dissolve enormous quantities of gas. The liquid would be contained in an enclosed helmet that would replace all the air in the lungs, nose and ear cavities.

The CO2 that would normally exit our body when we breathe out would be “scrubbed” from our blood by attaching a mechanical gill to the femoral vein in the leg.

By using oxygen suspended in liquid, divers would no longer have to worry about decompression sickness – the often fatal condition known as “the bends” which occurs when nitrogen dissolved in the blood under the immense pressures of deep water bubbles out as we rise. It could potentially allow them to descend to far greater depths than is currently possible.

Thanks for the tip-off Lonesamurai!


DarkFin Gloves

Posted by on November 13th, 2010

As Not Cot say, “DarkFin Gloves increase surface area by 70% thus requiring less energy to tread water. Ideal for water sports and sky diving.” And just too late for a perfectly creepy Halloween costume.

via Not Cot | Qais


Friday Flying

Posted by on October 8th, 2010

Jeb Corliss is a professional wingsuit pilot and BASE-jumper – so I think the following video pretty much speaks for itself.  I don’t know about you, but I needed an extra injection of wonder and awesome, today:

Jeb Corliss wing-suit demo from Jeb Corliss on Vimeo.


Jumping off the Burj

Posted by on January 15th, 2010

So last week the Burj Khalifa in Dubai was opened, the latest building to be qualified as the world’s tallest. It cost something like 1.5 billion dollars to construct and is basically a vertical city. In fact:

A firm of Chicago architects have designed it so that those who so wish will never have to leave, or even descend below the 108th floor.

That level is the top floor of residential apartments. For work, you can go to the offices upstairs – anywhere up to the 160th floor. To eat, you can visit the restaurant on the 122nd and to exercise, you can use the gym on the 123rd, about 440 metres up. The gym has both an indoor and, unnervingly, an outdoor swimming pool.

To prevent the high-flying yet enclosed life from becoming dull, the tower’s developers have a solution – at least for the young. The Burj intends to host the world’s highest nightclub, 20 floors higher still than the gym.

Back in May, 2008 two men snuck in and base jumped off it. This is their story:

P.S – not sure if you suffer from vertigo? Check out the view from the very top.


Oscar Pistorius – posthuman sports pioneer

Posted by on August 9th, 2009

We’ve been following the Oscar Pistorius story pretty closely here and for important reasons.  He was the first amputee capable, and ultimately, despite contention, allowed to compete against full-bodied opponents in the Olympics.

In the end, he just missed out on qualifying for the 400m sprint and an important moment in sports history was delayed..  but that hasn’t stopped the examination of what advantage his prosthetics give him.  Yes, advantage! That is why we’re tracking this so closely.

From Technology Review:

According to Peter Weyand, a physiologist and biomechanist at Southern Methodist University, in Dallas, and lead author of the study, much of Pistorius’s hearing focused on the wrong issue. “There was a lot of attention given to the question of whether his blades allowed him to run with less energy than other runners, which is pretty much irrelevant in sprinting,” says Weyand. “It’s sort of like arguing that a Volkswagen will beat a Porsche in a drag race because it gets better gas mileage.” Fuel economy is not the determining factor in sprint races, he explains: “When sprinting, animals are not energy limited; the mechanics are the limiting factor.”

Previous research also shows that both elite and ordinary runners with intact legs tend to move their limbs at a similar speed. Pistorius, on the other hand, “can reposition his limbs a lot faster than anyone we’ve ever measured,” says Weyand. But the scientists don’t yet know how to interpret this finding: does it represent an advantage of his comparatively light carbon limbs, or is it merely compensation for the fact that he can’t hit the ground with as much force as intact-limbed runners? “There is no real evidence he has an advantage over others, and there is some evidence the prostheses are a hindrance,” says Daniel Ferris, a biomechanist at the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor, who was not involved in the study.

“The science is still immature, and we don’t know for certain why he’s mechanically distinct–whether it’s because of his prostheses or because of his biology,” says Herr.  One way to answer that question would be to study a runner with one intact and one prosthetic leg and directly compare the biological side to the artificial side–an experiment that Herr says is in the works.

One possible explanation for Pistorius’s unusual pattern, says Herr, is that because he does not have calf muscles, the amputee runner is actually at a disadvantage during the first 200 meters–the acceleration phase of the race. It may be in the second half of the race that Pistorius’s inherent talent becomes clear. “Oscar is an outlier,” says Herr, who is a double amputee himself. “The Cheetah has been available to athletes for 15 years, but no one has been able to run as fast as Oscar.”  However, Herr says that scientists haven’t yet studied Pistorius and others as they accelerate.

The research is also helping scientists better understand the basics of running. “The Oscar Pistorius case has injected a great deal of interest in the area of bipedal sprinting,” says Herr. “By looking at the differences between amputee and intact-legged runners, we can more fundamentally understand the running mechanism and what is most important for speed.” Relatively little research has been done on the mechanics of sprinting, even in intact-legged runners, partly because it’s difficult to study people moving at such fast speeds. The new research was done using a special treadmill–one of only two or three such machines in the country.

Ferris says that the findings also point to ways that running prostheses could be improved. “One thing to try would be a prosthesis with adjustable stiffness,” he says. “That way, runners may be able to generate higher forces at certain points in the race.”

Absolutely fascinating; one man from South Africa making people see that to be different, isn’t to be less.. it can be so much more.


Powerbocking with jumping stilts

Posted by on August 2nd, 2009

Want to jump 6 feet in the air or run extra fast? Then get into powerbocking with a pair of these jumping stilts:

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via Next Big Future


The Runner – Exploit Yourself

Posted by on June 28th, 2009

Parkour? Check. Android? Check.

The Runner -Exploit yourself- from BLR_VFX on Vimeo.

via Richard Kadrey


Russia’s Aqua Star: An Original Underwater Motorcycle

Posted by on December 4th, 2008

The Aqua Star is an extraordinary motorcycle that permits the user to go underwater without any special equipment. The way it works is simple. The body of the motorcycle rider stays in the water and the head is encased in a sort of helmet that serves as a diving bell equipped with an air-supplying system.

The Aqua Star also has two motors instead of one. The second motor operates via pressing and holding a button, which lets the rider regulate the motorcycle’s position. This also lets the motorcycle hang at any point and turn around on the spot. As if that isn’t enough, the helmet of Aqua Star motorcycle is also one cool number, with its unique airflow system that prevents the glass from steaming up.

No word on price yet, but this seems like a high-end toy.

Link via inventorspot.com.


Bolt’s 100M record breaks expected statistical curve of human performance

Posted by on August 26th, 2008

The Olympics are over! But they are not gone yet; it is now time for the post-analysis; in particular of Usain Bolt‘s incredible new world record.

From Wired.com:


As astonishing as Usain Bolt’s record-breaking 100-meter sprint was, his time of 9.69 seconds is nowhere near what biostatisticians predict is the natural limit for the human body.

Statisticians have used a lower limit for 100-meter times of about 9.45 seconds…The exponential curve seen above — which is drawn from an equation calculated to fit the world record data — had been quite successful at predicting the steady progress of faster and faster 100-meter times. But Bolt’s recent string of world records was clearly not an expected event: The model didn’t predict a 9.69 until almost 2030.

Bolt just after victoryBolt, though, combines the mechanical advantages of taller men’s bodies with the fast-twitch fibers of smaller men.

“We don’t really know what the best form is and maybe Bolt is redefining that and showing us we missed something,” said biomechanicist John Hutchinson of the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London, who studies how animals move.

Hutchinson also agreed with Weyand that the human speed limit will remain impossible to predict with any confidence.

For him, it’s the International Olympic Committee and other regulatory authorities that will determine how fast athletes will be able to run by limiting the amount of advanced biotechnologies sprinters can use.

“The limits will be largely set by the rules of the IOC,” Hutchinson said. “It’s kind of an arms race with the regulators of the sport and the people trying to push the technology to the limits. At some point here there must be a détente where technology can’t push us any further and the rules will restrict it.”

With techniques for gene therapy likely to become available at some point in the not-too-distant future, Weyand said that its use by athletes was “inevitable.”

“You could see really freakish things and we probably will,” he warned.

Here’s hoping!


Natalie Du Toit – first female amputee in the Olympics

Posted by on August 10th, 2008

natalie du toitI do not know how I missed this one earlier. It seems there is more than one amputee athlete from South Africa taking on the ‘able bodied’.

Swimmer Natalie Du Toit who competed at the Kuala Lumpur Games in 1998 at the age of 14, but later lost her leg in a motorcycle accident in 2001.

Not only is she competing, she carried the flag for the South African team!

Here is a clip from Al Jazeera featuring her and Oscar Pistorius:
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Gene doping – next-gen cheating in sports

Posted by on July 24th, 2008

Sport is an area of human activity that is already suffused with drug-based enhancement, and the financial and personal rewards for enhanced performance in sport indicate that sport will be one of the areas in which gene-based enhancement is first likely to arise. The world sport therefore serves as a very effective setting in which to examine broad societal issues of enhancement and the unclear boundary between treatment and enhancement.

- WADA St. Petersburg Gene Doping Declaration.

When we think of cheating in sports we usually think of drugs like steroids. As this news report tipped me off to though, the Olympic officials are now looking beyond the past and into the future, alert to new ways of cheating.

Although there have been no documented cases of gene doping, participants at WADA’s Third Gene Doping Symposium said the science of gene therapy and interest in the techniques by the sports community has risen to a level that makes gene doping inevitable.

Inevitable! So it is probably no surprise then that under-cover reporters have already busted Chinese doctors offering stem-cell therapy to athletes, a treatment that “strengthens lung function and stem cells go into the bloodstream and reach the organs”. All for the quite reasonable price of $US24,000. The doctor noted that “We also use human growth hormones, but you have to be careful because they are on the doping list.”

This year’s Olympics continues to look more and more interesting, and I was already hooked, what with Oscar Pistorious competing.

I am sure all the officials will be watching to be sure no one excels too greatly, this being an obvious indicator of some sort of performance enhancing going on (hello Ben Johnson).

With so much attention being paid, would we really expect to see a gene-doping scandal this year? Maybe. Obviously history shows athletes can not help but take every advantage they can find.

However, I can not help thinking that this might well raise it’s head in a sport where there is still a lot of money being thrown around, but is less stringently regulated. I am talking about Mixed Martial Arts.

Fighters have been busted for steroid use a few times now, most famously causing Tim Sylvia to be stripped of his Heavyweight title. With 5-figure contracts and serious endorsement money up for grabs, $24K might seem a prudent investment to some; especially when so many fights are won by enduring until the other fighter gases out.

Ultimately, time will tell. I am sure though that we will only hear more about gene-doping in the years to come.


Bigger, Stronger, Faster: an examination of performance enhancing drugs

Posted by on July 17th, 2008

This looks like a very interesting documentary; Bigger, Stronger, Faster an examination of the culture and history of performance enhancing drugs, specifically steroids.

Here is the trailer:

Anyone seen it? I think it is pretty easy to extrapolate this to other areas. Do they do blood tests at the Math Olympics; are nootropics banned there, I wonder?