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VWN Resource Database: Levelling the Field
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Resource Database > Levelling the Field
Related information is also held in the following Categories:
Augmenting Healthcare | Virtual Output | Prosthetic Pieces | Teledildonics | Theraputic Worlds | Neuroprosthetics | The Brain | Locomotion | Sensation | Telehealth | Embodied Avatars
 
Not everyone is born equal. Not by a long shot. Not so much disabilities as reduced abilities, the loss of limbs, or possession of a syndrome that hampers movement, concentration or co-ordination makes life more difficult than it has to be.

Racial hatred, bigotry, sexual inequality, blinkered minds and old-school thinking compound the problems for those who have a difference in body form to what is perceived to be the norm.

It doesn't have to be that way.

Synthetic reality is poised to finally deliver on promise - to give people a life that is equal, a level playing field. Mind over matter. In this case, direct mental communication, and interaction. The person they are inside becomes important NOT the shell they were born with.


Sections


A Virtual Body (18)

A fully virtual body, free of the limited constrains, pains, and problems of the physical, made anew via computer mediation, is a hoped and dreamed about desire for so many. For those whose bodies do not truly function properly, no-longer function, or are pained or disfigured, a virtual body would offer full liberation, and a chance to reach their full potential. For those whose bodies are fully functional, it still holds value. Allowing experience of the world from perspectives they could otherwise, never attain.
Applicable Dictionary Entries:  
BMIExtended Identity
Homo Cyber SapiensPhase Lag
The Simulation ArgumentUncanny Valley
Virtual Embodiment
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A new life, a happier life, a virtual life
The life which most crave for is a life in which the form they wear is one of their choosing, one in which the visage they present matches the person inside. A life which feels as physically real as the one left behind, in which the person is more active, more vibrant, more alive than they might have been otherwise.

Linked resource
Being-here, now...
"Virtual presence is indistinguishable from real presence." A look into the future of the neuralprosthetic and what utilising such will eventually mean for our definition of 'virtual' and 'real'.

Locally Hosted resource
Eye-tracking as Virtual Environment Interaction for Disabilities
Gaze tracking comes to the desktop, as an interface modality designed exclusively to control virtual environments by gaze control, and aimed at those who lack fine motor control for a mouse. Packaged in the unfortunately named "Snap Clutch" driver.

Linked resource
Game Law: Everybody Conga?
Remember those old movies with the long conga line in them? Well, imagine that the line is a line of gamers. But some of the gamers can't dance. So, no conga for them. They're just watching their friends have fun while dealing with a frustrated desire to dance themselves. That is what it is like for an estimated 20-25% of the population over the age of 17. This is because these potential gamers have one or more physical or cognitive disabilities. Games and VR worlds do not provide for them, so they cannot participate.

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High Dynamic Range Photography, and Use in Eye Emulation
H.D.R., or high dynamic range photography is a relatively new technique used by photographers to take high-quality full lighting range photos that are near-indistinguishable from paintings, for their ability to correctly replicate the lighting of a given scene, exactly how the human eye would see it.

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Opening The Prison
There is a necessity to virtualise every basic part of a person's body in order to create a virtual shell that is as comfortable or more comfortable than the original physical shell. It goes beyond the basic external senses, it goes beyond proprioception, and into the realm of, as the Matrix films would say "residual self image". It is necessary to create a form complete and intricate enough that the person whose mind is inside it can walk in front of a reflective surface, look in and feel 'that's me.'

Locally Hosted resource
Podcast: Better Life
Not so much a podcast, as a song with CGI accompaniment, this video is still a very powerful illustration of just why VR is such a powerful tool for the disabled. Be forewarned: It is very difficult to watch/listen to this one without tears forming.

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Racial Equality in VR Forms
Race is the enduring, heartbreaking problem of modern, multinational society. No matter the country, no matter the society, if there are people who are visually or culturally different from other people, the race card flares. VR cannot of course sweep all of that away overnight. It can however offer another way, after all, race is all about the physical, and VR is very good at making the physical, not matter.


SimStim is literally Simulated Stimulation, and is a logical parallel to VR. Rather than experiencing a full VR or AR experience in which your mind is placed inside a metaverse matrix, a completely simulated reality; or the joys of physical reality -meatspace- with additional VR components grafted on, SimStim opens up a third possibility.



A history in chronological order of important events in the development of the BrainGate chip by CyberKinetics. This primative Neuralprosthetic kick-started the field by delivering concrete, repeatable results for the first time.


Locally Hosted resource
Virtual Limbs: Living with three arms
Virtual Reality is just beginning to head down the full body sensation reproduction path. We are at the very early stages of being able to recreate parts of the physical form, entirely in the virtual. This is a concept which is likely to have very a profound effect upon how we deal with the world around us.



Plugging Out? (8)

Do you actually have to leave the physical world behind, to go virtual? Or can Augmented Reality serve to interface between the two; one person in a virtual life, the other in a (mostly) physical one, and still be fullfilling for both?
Applicable Dictionary Entries:  
Homo Cyber SapiensMixed Reality
Linked resource
Being-here, now...
"Virtual presence is indistinguishable from real presence." A look into the future of the neuralprosthetic and what utilising such will eventually mean for our definition of 'virtual' and 'real'.

Locally Hosted resource
Book Quotes: Alternate Living
A second look at the use of personality constructs, both in Idoru and in our world. Why they are created, why they are needed, and most importantly of all: why they are no less than real themselves.

Locally Hosted resource
Book Quotes: Annulling Disability Through VR
One of the final, and most wonderful shocks of Idoru is right at the end, when we discover the meaning behind Zona Rosa, one of the most fleshed out and truly helpful characters. Right at the very end, this online wonder is revealed to be the digital persona of a physically disabled woman.

Locally Hosted resource
Star Trek: The Original Series, & VR ~ The Menagerie, Part 1
The Menagerie is the classic episode pair for highlighting the critical difference that whilst a VR-mediated life may be horrid to a person at the peak of physical ability, for someone so disabled in body that they are pushed to the edges of society, it is a true godsend.

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Star Trek: The Original Series, & VR ~ The Menagerie, Part 2
The second, concluding part of the StarTrek original series look at when a virtual life is better than a physical life, for the individual's own happiness and fulfilment.

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Virtual Voice: The Power of Online Communication: A Textual Voice
Textual communication, as exhibited by chat rooms, MUDs, graphic social VRs, and MMOs, is itself a form of voice, a virtual voice. There are many who cannot speak properly, through the many disabilities which can affect voice: ME which wastes muscles away; cerebral palsy, which limits fine motor control; Parkinsons, which plays with signals from the brain to the body, or simple paralysis.



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Virtual Voice (3)

Voice. Not necessarily vocal, voice can equally be expressed in prose as it can in vocalisation. However it is expressed, a voice is a basic necessity for expression of self. A vocal virtual voice, sounding out the intent of the person, even without a physical organ backing it, is ultimately essential for life through VR to ultimately, even be considered as a serious proposition.
Locally Hosted resource
Advanced Speech Encoding
Advanced Speech Encoding, or ASE is designed to reduce the number of bits required to transmit voice signals over a data stream down to the minimum possible. For virtual environments, this would be ideal, as voice traffic takes up huge amounts of packet space, radically reducing the rest of the data flow.

Locally Hosted resource
Virtual Human? How about Virtual Voice?
Previously featured Industry News from September 2003, looking at the Vocaloid technology - the creation of virtual singers using voice fonts from previous artists.

Locally Hosted resource
Virtual Voice: The Power of Online Communication: A Textual Voice
Textual communication, as exhibited by chat rooms, MUDs, graphic social VRs, and MMOs, is itself a form of voice, a virtual voice. There are many who cannot speak properly, through the many disabilities which can affect voice: ME which wastes muscles away; cerebral palsy, which limits fine motor control; Parkinsons, which plays with signals from the brain to the body, or simple paralysis.



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Augmenting the body (32)

The human body is a fine machine, when all is working as it should. When bits are malfunctioning, or bits are missing, or malformed then it is time to replace them, augment the body by strapping on artificial replacements. In fact, going beyond replacing broken bits, we can augment the natural, add functionality that was never there in the first place, and improve the form, for specific purposes.
Applicable Dictionary Entries:  
BMIHaptic Interface
Homo Cyber SapiensMixed Reality
Smart Prosthetic
Locally Hosted resource
AR: Object Recognition in Real-Time
Using a process of machine vision, not altogether different from OCR, a Santa Monica, California, based company has created an application which identifies physical world objects held in front of a camera-phone, regardless of orientation.

Locally Hosted resource
Are prosthetics Obsolete? Priced out of The Heal Game
Modern limb prosthetics are quite amazing. The sudden need for large quantities of replacement limbs, born out of recent, bizarre wars such as the US-Iraq mess, has kick-started the prosthetic industry. Only problem is, they are not cheap to make.

Locally Hosted resource
Augmented reality device helps multiple sclerosis patients walk
Researchers from the Technion Institute of Technology in Israel have crafted a wearable augmented reality immersion apparatus designed to provide patients suffering from balance disorders with supplemental auditory and visual information to restore normal gait.

Locally Hosted resource
BMI Wheelchair: May 2009 Update
A few times now, we have covered various attempts to interface an electric wheelchair directly with thought control. The video below, by the researchers working on this project, goes into considerable technical detail, whilst highlighting progress made since we last looked at the work in February 2009.

Locally Hosted resource
Bringing Eyecare to those without Optometrists
How do you care for the sight of people in the developing world, or below the poverty line in the developed world? Those who cannot afford to see an optician, and those for whom the nearest optician might be 2,000 miles away? Sometimes the best solution is not the most complex.

Locally Hosted resource
First woman fitted with bionic arm
Industry News

Ex-Marine Claudia Mitchell lost her arm in a motorcycle accident two years ago. Since then, she struggled with life with one arm. Standard prosthetic limbs gave a cosmetic limb, but added nothing to her quality of life. Now, she is the first human trial of a bionic arm, developed at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

Locally Hosted resource
High Tech Hunting Peters Out
Designed to enable disabled hunting, internet based animal hunting was co-opted for a couch-potato hunting technology in early 2005, allowing people to kill animals from the safety of their homes via a web-based flash interface.

Locally Hosted resource
Home Stroke Rehabilitation ? 2014?
Industry News

Its early 2009, and the University of Southampton, in the UK, is developing electrical stimulation technology, designed to help stroke patients relearn movement, by duplicating the natural, original nerve impulses. The technology is a direct offshoot of work to decode the electrical signals of the peripheral nervous system.

Locally Hosted resource
Medicine Management via Bodypart
One idea new to drug dispensation, is not to dispense the drug at all. Instead, take a leaf out of drip solutions. Anchor the dispenser to part of the patient, let it become a part of their body and, every time a dose is required, it dispenses straight into the digestive tract, or, even straight into the bloodstream.

Locally Hosted resource
Monkeys Treat Robot Arm as Their Own
Industry News

Industry news, originally posted 16-05-2005. Rather than simply manipulating a robotic device, an organic brain incorporates a robotic limb as though it was born with it attached.

Locally Hosted resource
New Implant Promises Prosthetic Near-Natural Hearing
We finally understand enough about the way sound signals are processed into electrical signals, to go one better than the cochlea implant. We can tap directly into the auditory nerve itself.

Locally Hosted resource
Offering The Independence of the Open Road to those to whom Driving is Closed
When questioned on the possibilities of AI controlled cars, a significant proportion of general public individuals have queried the need for them, stating such viewpoints as "driving is a right, not a privilege". How then, can we justify the pursuit of AI controlled vehicles?

Locally Hosted resource
Podcast: Aimee Mullins: How my legs give me super-powers
This podcast, part of the 2009 TED conference, is the videoing of a speech given by Aimee Mullins, on the state of prosthetic leg development, and the narrowing divide between disability and superhuman ability.

Locally Hosted resource
Prosthetic Control Systems and Grace of Movement
For a great many, the dream of being graceful and smooth of movement - or even not scattering every item on a desk they try to lean over - is something of a fondly held dream. For others, even being able to walk unaided holds a similar place of reverence.

Locally Hosted resource
Prosthetics
An introductory-level overview of the field of prosthetic limb replacement, and the level of development it is reaching.


Augmenting or upgrading the body via the attachment of prosthetic limbs, new organs, neuroprosthetic devices, and integrated computer circuitry is fundamental to so many of the ways technology is changing the way we view the world, the limitations we face, and the effects of major injury. In order to do the most good, there are three critical issues we have got to overcome:



The dream of a prosthetic limb that touches and feels like a natural limb, is still some ways away. A natural arm or leg processes sensory data at a rate we just do not have the bandwidth to recreate, much less tie into the human nervous system. That said however, significant progress has already been made, and development continues at a rapidly accelerating pace.



Cyborg athletes ? part organic, part machine ? are slowly, surreptitiously creeping into being. From simple biometric monitors and augmented reality display systems, to sprinters with no legs.


Locally Hosted resource
Revolutionizing Prosthetics 2009 Team Delivers First DARPA Limb Prototype
An international team led by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in the US, has developed a prototype of the first fully integrated prosthetic arm that can be controlled naturally, including the provision of sensory feedback and allows for eight degrees of freedom. This is an order of magnitude beyond previous efforts, including the haptic arm of Claudia Mitchell.

Locally Hosted resource
The Dawn of 3D Printed Prosthetics
In a previous article, Are prosthetics Obsolete? Priced out of The Heal Game, we took a look at the state of the prosthetics industry, which is in a state of disrepair due to costs. This article examines one possible solution to the spiraling cost of prosthetics, already being implemented.

Locally Hosted resource
Using RFID to Monitor Implants
A biodegradable, edible RFID chip, hoped to be swallowed and tracked through the stomach, may actually have a far wider range of applications than the one aimed at.

BrainPort uses the sensitive surface of the tongue to send pseudo-visual information along a series of electrode prongs arranged in an array. Nothing new there, still this is the first time an attempt has gone commercial.



A product of neuroprosthetic work, the Neuro-Controlled Bionic Arm, product of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, is the first artificial limb to tap directly into the nervous system, allowing it to be moved by unconscious thought, exactly the same as the natural, original arm.



The X-finger currently retails for $10,000 US$ each piece, and does not rely on any form of robotics to articulate. It fits over the stub of an amputated finger, and the wearer simply pushes against a lever with the remaining portion of their finger, which sets the knuckles into motion.



Locally Hosted resource
Woman with bionic arm regains sense of touch
The art of prosthetics has moved forwards once more, and Claudia Mitchell, who lost her arm in a motorcycle accident and became the first woman to be fitted with a bionic arm has now become the first woman to be fitted with an artificial arm ? same arm ? that returns a sense of touch to her nervous system.

Linked resource
You Tube of Claudia Mitchell and the first haptic, bionic arm
Ex-Marine Claudia Mitchell became the first woman to receive a bionic arm. This video shows the truly revolutionary range of motion and freedom, that allows.

Linked resource
You Tube of the first haptic, bionic arm versus a non-haptic
A comparison. Two women, both with prosthetic limbs. On the left, a standard prosthetic. On the right, a haptic prosthetic giving touch feedback. Who can complete the task faster, and is there much difference?



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Interfacing with the Outside World (3)

Once you have a virtual body –an avatar with sensory feeling and total immersion – does that mean you have to let the outside world go? Let it drift from your mind, as you whittle your funds down on life support, living in a virtual escapism? Or, is there the capacity to continue to interact with the outside world, from within the virtual? Having a life, a job, a family, a career, with the opportunity provided by a form far superior to that which is physical?
Applicable Dictionary Entries:  
Smart Prosthetic
Locally Hosted resource
FT
FT, or Female Type, is a tiny robot created by Tomotaka Takahashi of Kyoto University in Japan. This little figure, just one foot tall has been designed to move like a woman.

Locally Hosted resource
How Was School Today?
'How Was School Today?' is the name of a piece of Scottish software/hardware developed with the spress aim of facilitation the possibility of allowing disabled children with severe communication impediments to take control of and manipulate the flow of conversation. In essence including them in activities they would otherwise be marginalised in, and forcing their inclusion in a general social mix.



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Maintaining the Old Body (3)

When jacked into a simulation through high sensory modality for reasons of health or overcoming a severe disability, it is going to be prudent to maintain such simulations for as long as possible. Thus, measures need to be in place to care for the physical shell whilst the mind’s sense of self is elsewhere.
Applicable Dictionary Entries:  
NAVANeurally Adjusted Ventilatory Assist
Locally Hosted resource
Neural Controlled Ventilation
Designed initially with infants and premature births in mind, the NAVA or Neurally Adjusted Ventilatory Assist technology is being used to help prevent deterioration in the diaphragm of long term sedentary patients - ideal for plugging in.