Bionics is a portmanteau of biology and electronics. It’s basically the practice of taking people and making them better using engineering. Typically it’s used to help fix people with medical issues, to either replace a lost body part, or improve a damaged one.
Read about a 15-year old girl who became the youngest person in Europe with a bionic hand. It’s a pretty cool story, and there are a couple videos at the end of the post.
Bionic parts are rarely used by people who could otherwise have a perfectly functioning normal part. But that’s because the bionic limbs and parts we have today are still primitive compared to our naturally growing ones. We’ve yet to make the bionic limbs better than ours. What happens when we do that?
Here’s a halfway point: this guy lost his real eye, but since he can’t actually replace or improve it, he decided to get an upgrade in another way…
No, I don’t have qualifications, but I do have a camera for an eye.
Yeah, I can start Monday.
It’s also worth noting a cool videogame which came out very recently, up this same vein. It’s a sci-fi shooting game called Deus Ex: Human Revolution. And it’s a creative investigation about what might happen if bionics could improve people. Check out the Deus Ex: HR cinematic trailer.
Bionics is actually a pretty wide term, tied in with Biomimetics, the practice of miming what happens in nature. Velcro is considered to be a kind of Biomimetic, since it copied nature. But here, we’re referring to bionics used in medicine.
It’s a very interesting field that could be fun for a lot of people. If you like engineering, but want to mix it with another interest (like medicine, for example), bionics might be for you!
- PhysOrg article about the eyeborg.
- National Geographic page on Bionics.
- Berkeley Bionics Human Exoskeleton video.