Cyabathlon: Sporting Event For People With Disabilities

There is a lot going on in the assistive technology world – newer and exciting advancements are happening all the time. However, the purpose of assistive technology is not just to provide suitable accommodations and make life easier for people with disabilities but also to take things to the next level – make them competitive; help them become true sportsmen.

To bring that philosophy to reality, Cybathlon, a championship for people with disabilities, will take place in Zurich on 8 October 2016. The event is open to everyone who wear prosthetic limbs; use exoskeletons, powered wheelchairs or brain interfaces. The people competing can either use commercially available products or prototypes made by individuals or research labs. There would be two medals for each event – one for the “pilot” (the person driving or using the device) and the other for the manufacturer of said device.

 Pilots will be participating in the following disciplines:

  • Arm Prosthetic Race: Amputees wearing prosthetic upper arm limbs will be required to complete two hand tasks as quickly as possible.
  • Brain Computer Interface Race: Pilots will wear a brain interface that will be used to control their avatar in a horse race or car race game.
  • FES Bike Race: Pilots with complete spinal cord injuries will be given Functional Electrical Simulation devices which will enable them to pedal on a circular track.
  • Leg Prosthetics Race: Pilots with lower limb prosthetics will be competing in a race with tasks and hurdles.
  • Powered Exoskeleton Race: Pilots wearing exoskeleton will be walking in a circuit with various tasks, elements and hurdles.
  • Powered Wheelchair Race: Similar to the Exoskeleton Race, pilots who are on powered wheelchair will be steering their wheelchairs along a particular course with various obstacles.

As an example, here is what the Leg Prosthetic Race circuit looks like (click to enlarge):

diagram showing leg prosthetic race circuit with its elements and hurdles
The Cybathlon is not just for promoting competitiveness among people with disabilities – there are some very noble aspirations attached to it. First and foremost, to keep encouraging companies and research labs to produce cutting edge assistive technology devices. Second, to make the common public aware of all the challenges and opportunities that assistive technology provides, and last, but not the least, to enable pilots to compete in various races!

This is a unique way to bring excitement into the assistive technology world and to everyone involved in this area. Keep an eye on this event. I will post again about Cybathlon as more information becomes available!

Website: Cybathlon

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