Bionic joints could become a reality

Hand photo

Two successful businesses born out of the University of Auckland have flown back to the nest to work on a project that could make the bionic joints of 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man a reality.

Startup companies StretchSense and I Measure U are part of a three-year collaboration between the University of Auckland's Bioengineering Institute and the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart, Germany, to develop a human bionic arm.

Iain Anderson, group leader of the university's Biomimetics Laboratory, said there are numerous commercial applications for bionic limbs (robotics attached to the outside of the body) including stroke rehabilitation, helping patients with compromised strength and in manufacturing.

"There's the ability [with bionic limbs] to give people more capability than what they were born with - for instance, in assembly line work where they have a repetitive task to do that would normally fatigue them. With a [robotic] device people could do more and have less likelihood of workplace injury," he said.

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