The Rise of the Human Cyborg? 

bioic arm


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It’s happening! The American food and drug authority has approved the use of a robotic arm for patients who have lost the use of their arms.  With this and the progress made in the field of prosthetics in general could we be seeing the rise of the Human Cyborg?

No longer does a prosthetic arm mean a having a hook at the end of some ill fitted piece of plastic.  The Deka Arm’s revolutionary design means its fingers can move much more realistically so it is easier for amputees to perform everyday tasks.  The arm, the first of its kind to be approved by medical authories in the US, also has a much greater range of movement and replaces the old technology used in existing devices, many of which are still based on designs more than 100 years old.  The arm uses electrodes to detect miniscule muscle movements that the wearer makes so that they can learn to make 10 different movements.

While there have been vast improvements within the field of prosthetics, much of the work has focused on the legs as opposed to arms and hands.  This is because of the immense engineering challenge that human hands cause.  $40 million (£24 million) of research from the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency was invested with the aim of improving the range of robot limbs out there for those who had lost upper limbs.

Justin Sanchez, spokesman for the arm’s creators told Reuters, “It was designed to produce near-natural upper extremity control to injured people who have suffered amputations…This prosthetic limb system can pick up objects as delicate as a grape, as well being able to handle very rugged tools like a hand drill”

Progress within the field of artificial limbs can also be credited to the tireless work of Dr Herr.  After losing both of his legs in an accident he went on to design artificial limbs that use a synthetic skin for greater comfort to the wearer. His limbs have moved on from the traditional wood, rubber or plastics and become truly bionic. Talking about how he felt after his accident he said, “I didn’t view my body as broken. I saw it as a call to arms to eliminate my own disability and those of others.”

With these progressions in technology we see the advent of a new era.  The era of the bionic man.  Hopefully, with more funding and the tireless work of people like Dr. Herr, there will be a time when no one in the world has to live a lesser life due to a disability

The Marriage of Technology and Food

Technology has spread to take a part in all aspects of our lives,  now it has evolved into an ecological solution to our urban problems.  Land has always been at a premium and agricultural technology has strived for centuries to cultivate the greatest amount of food within the smallest plots. With an ever increasing global population and good quality agricultural land becoming scarcer the future of food production is a great concern. With this looming crisis finding sustainable ways to feed ourselves from our urban environment has never been more important.   From terraced gardens to rice paddies we have moulded and shaped our environments to maximise yields of food.  Now we look at the next great leap forward, bringing our farms into the very spaces that we live in. Solutions such as Urby and WindowFarms are great ideas and show the general movement towards inside gardening.

What indoor options are there?


If you like indoor gardens and the effect that they bring to your home then these products are a great place to start.  Window Farms is an open design movement with 40,000 members and something that looks straight out of a sci-fi film yet using the most basic of materials. Urby is a beautiful designed system to grow your own vegetables that allows you to monitor and change conditions using an app, you don’t need any prior knowledge and it takes minimal time. These cool, low energy and high yield systems have been hailed as modern art, and let’s be honest; adding some relaxing greenery makes any space more homely.  Think of it as the Good Life for the iPod generation.

They’re both hydroponic systems for growing vegetables and herbs in urban environments.  In creating these products Urby and the WindowFarm movements have created communities that work together linking all over the world.  The aim is to solve the problem of getting fresh local food to people in cities.

Britta Riley and Rebecca Bray are at the forefront of a revolution.  From TED talks to their own channel on Youtube to a whole community of people communicating via their websites WindowFarms are here to stay.  Urby represents an edgy evolution in the ideas and the technology could really improve all of our lives. By using an app to monitor the growing conditions Urby takes ideas like farmville, a popular facebook game, and turns it into a real life useful experience.  You will be able to decide just how involved you want to be with the growing of your plants so for the lazier of us, you can sit back and relax as Urby grows you delicious fresh vegetables. With the amount of time people sink into apps and their digital lives it is refreshing to have a product like Urby which bridges the divide between our online lives and the natural world.

Why do we need these products?

Aesthetically they’re pleasing.  Nutritionally they produce fresh produce that are good for you; straight from growing to eating reduces the chance of nutrients being lost.  Financially they’re not expensive.   Socially they open you up to a wide community of likeminded individuals from all over the world.  They produce food all year round with the added benefit of being a low carbon footprint option.  Growing your own dramatically reduces transport costs associated with food.   You get to experience the whole life-cycle of the plant, and understand where your food comes from, allowing us to feel more connected with nature. Our urban environments can become green sanctuaries whilst feeding us, while making us feel empowered by taking back control over the food we consume.

What does the future hold?

Although not the answer to the food problems we face, these innovative technologies represent a part of the solution.  Windowfarms and Urby reconceive the whole idea of what an indoor space is, to change the relationship we have with our environment.

They are the beginning of a whole movement where agriculture and architecture intertwine.  Growing indoors transforms our man made environment into something more organic, bringing nature indoors not only for aesthetics but to feed ourselves.

You can check out Urby here  and WindowFarms here  Change the space you live in, produce your own vegetables and have fun doing it.

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