#Future Tech

Innovation: Smart leg moves notches up in competition

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Human sufferings have been at the forefront of scientific innovations since ages. Science, apart from exploring the truths of nature and beyond, has also continuously innovated to find an answer to human sufferings. Recent times have seen a wonderful marriage of medical sciences and engineering, thereby helping humans and animals regain functions which could have been deemed lost, owing to circumstances or biological conditions.

Yes, we are speaking of limbs lost, speech gone or even vision blinded forever. Except for watertight problems with respect to medical sciences such as cancer or HIV which are still being researched on, the field of prosthetics has benefited greatly from the intersection of engineering knowledge combined with medical sciences.

It could well be called the coming of age innovation when you hear about a smart prosthetic leg making it to one of the three finalists for the UK’s most prestigious MacRobert Award. This award is being organized annually since 1969 by the Royal Academy of Engineering. This year, the award would be presented on June 23.

The others who made it to the shortlist include Jaguar Land Rover for building innovative engines, and Siemens Magnet Technology for creating new horizons in MRI scanning mechanisms.

Each of the three finalists have created some sort of a buzz with immensely improving the possibilities of reducing human suffering harnessing the latest knowledge in medical sciences and innovation in engineering fields. The prosthetic limb is made by Basingstoke firm in Blatchford. It uses a network of sensors to adapt to dynamic situations such as movements by adjusting its robotic knee and foot.

This is the first ever prosthetic limb with integrated robotic control of knee and foot. It is very close to how a human leg works under normal conditions.

Siemens Magnet Technology (Oxfordshire) brought in excellence in MRI imaging with the very first seven-Tesla (7T) scanner for clinical and research applications. The previous standard being 3T, the 7T innovation would mean clearer images for clinicians to derive conclusions from, and making the diagnosis a lot more accurate. Though this has an overall impact on medical field, this innovation is greatly helpful in dealing with sensitive images from Alzheimer’s to Multiple Sclerosis.

The only other finalist is the Ingenium search engines developed by Jaguar Land Rover at Wolverhampton carried out at an investment of £1.5bn for five years in product development. This plant was the most significant contribution Jaguar made to environment with the development of greener engines.