TIME Research

Paralyzed Man in Robotic Body Suit Will Kick Off World Cup

The exoskeleton is controlled by brainwaves, and has the potential to replace wheelchairs for victims of paralysis

A paraplegic man in a state of the art brain-controlled body suit will make the first kick of the World Cup on Thursday in front of 1 billion people.

Miguel Nicolelis, a Brazilian neuroscientist at Duke University, led a team of 156 researchers to create an exoskeleton that could enable people who are paralyzed to walk, and the technology will be displayed in action during the World Cup’s opening ceremonies ahead of the first match, Brazil vs. Croatia, in Sao Paulo. The man taking the kick has asked not to be named.

The suit, controlled by a non-invasive cap that reads brainwaves, can also send signals from the “feet” to artificial skin on the user’s arm to convey a sense of moment. The technology has the potential to replace wheelchairs for victims of paralysis.

“Doing a demonstration in a stadium is something very much outside our routine in robotics,” Nicolelis told AFP, an epic understatement given the potential of the robot and given the expected television audience for the match of 1 billion people.

Here’s a video about the technology from the National Science Foundation:

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