Paralyzed teenager wearing a robotic exoskeleton to kick the first FIFA World Cup ball

by Gavril Mankoo

The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is just around the corner and just as you’d expect, we’re bloody excited. Besides the fact that this is one of the biggest sporting events in the world and that most of us are eagerly waiting the beginning of the games with cans of beer stocked in our refrigerators, the World Cup will also showcase extra-ordinary technology developments. The first ball at the World Cup will be kicked by a paralyzed teenager, wearing an exoskeleton. The initiative is the result of a collaboration between the Colorado State University, the Technical University of Munich and the Lily Safra International Institute of Neuroscience of Natal in Brazil.

The motorized exoskeleton will be controlled by the wearer’s brain and will enable the paralyzed teenager to walk up to the soccer ball and kick it! The mind-control helmet used in this exoskeleton is 3D printed layer-by-layer to fit the wearer’s head perfectly and connect to electrodes. This will be the first time technology like this is shown off to the world at one go and is a stepping-stone towards a future where people with physical disabilities can breathe easy and live happier and simpler lives. Who’s “not” excited for the World Cup now?