'Toilet with brains' to assist disabled people : Mail & Guardian Online

They size you up, offer you a hand, raise and lower the seat and flush when you're finished.

Researchers at Vienna's Technical University said on Thursday they have begun production on what they've dubbed a "toilet with brains" -- a high-tech commode designed to help multiple-sclerosis patients and other disabled or elderly people.

Flush here.

But will it shake it when you're done?

May 19, 2005 in technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Balancing Act

Noise is the key to restoring the body's sense of equilibrium

I want these shoes! Interesting article on vibrating insoles and balance.

More here.

We are developing noise-based devices, such as vibrating insoles, to improve balance control in older adults and patients with diabetic neuropathy, stroke, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis, respectively.

More information and references  here.

April 28, 2005 in research, technology, treatment, worth following... | Permalink | Comments (0)

Neural Engineering's Image Problem

Jennifer French, who was paralyzed from the waist down in 1998 as a result of a snowboarding accident, has a new mission. Standing up? Walking? No. Been there. Done that. With the help of electronics implanted in her legs and lower torso, she can already stand up out of her wheelchair and even move around using her walker. But now she's taken on a different sort of challenge: motivating others with neurological injuries and their caregivers to consider implanted devices. It's a tougher sell than you might think.

Neuroscientists are, at last, realizing one of the greatest ambitions in recent medical history: the ability to tap directly into the human nervous system to restore motor and sensory functions in patients who lost them because of injury, illness, or stroke.

More here.

April 22, 2004 in research, technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hybrid Vehicle Registrations Rise in 2003

Americans are opting more for vehicles with environmentally friendly gasoline-electric hybrid engines, new statistics show, and that trend is expected to continue because of high gas prices and a growing number of hybrid models.

Drive here.

April 22, 2004 in technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Virus Underground

When Mario is bored -- and out here in the countryside, surrounded by soaring snowcapped mountains and little else, he's bored a lot -- he likes to sit at his laptop and create computer viruses and worms. Online, he goes by the name Second Part to Hell, and he has written more than 150 examples of what computer experts call ''malware'': tiny programs that exist solely to self-replicate, infecting computers hooked up to the Internet. Sometimes these programs cause damage, and sometimes they don't. Mario says he prefers to create viruses that don't intentionally wreck data, because simple destruction is too easy. ''Anyone can rewrite a hard drive with one or two lines of code,'' he says. ''It makes no sense. It's really lame.'' Besides which, it's mean, he says, and he likes to be friendly.

Ever wonder where those nasty worms and virus' come from. Dive into the Virus Underground.

February 9, 2004 in technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Disney's Segway Ban Upsets Some Disabled

The last time Doug Exum went to Walt Disney World, he rented an electric scooter to navigate the resort's four theme parks. But he tired of sitting and the scooter cost him $200.

The next time the 42-year-old computer programmer from Plano, Texas, returns, he wants to bring his Segway, which allows him to stand up as he scoots about on its platform and battery-operated two wheels.

There's only one problem: Disney World doesn't allow visitors, even those with disabilities like Exum, to use the self-balancing transportation machines. The policy has angered some Segway owners with disabilities and surprised others since the Disney parks have a reputation for accommodating the disabled...

Disney World isn't the only place to restrict the use of Segways. They're also prohibited at Disney's California parks — Disneyland and California Adventure. Sea World Orlando says it doesn't allow them for safety reasons and San Francisco last year outlawed them on its sidewalks.

Orlando's other major theme park resort, Universal Orlando, doesn't have a policy. Jerry Miller, a 55-year-old retired state trooper from Indiana who has Parkinson's disease, recently went to Universal on his Segway without any problems.

Read more here.

On our trip to California last year we found Universal much more disability friendly than Disneyland.

February 8, 2004 in accessability, technology, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dive Into Accessibility

This book answers two questions. The first question is "Why should I make my web site more accessible?" If you do not have a web site, this book is not for you. The second question is "How can I make my web site more accessible?" If you are not convinced by the first answer, you will not be interested in the second.

Read it online here.

February 1, 2004 in accessability, technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

Toyota to Introduce Highlander Hybrid in 2004 in US

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., will debut the Highlander hybrid midsize sport utility vehicle (SUV) and an all new full-size pick-up truck concept at a press conference at the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Drive here.

December 12, 2003 in technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

"How Hybrid Cars Work"

Have you pulled your car up to the gas pump lately and been shocked by the high price of gasoline? As the pump clicked past $20 or $30, maybe you thought about trading in that SUV for something that gets better mileage. Or maybe you are worried that your car is contributing to the greenhouse effect. Or maybe you just want to have the coolest car on the block.


How does a hybrid car work? What goes on under the hood to give you 20 or 30 more miles per gallon than the standard automobile? And does it pollute less just because it gets better gas mileage? In this edition of HowStuffWorks, we'll help you understand how this amazing technology works. We'll show you what is going on in the Toyota and Honda hybrids, and even give you some advice about how to drive one for maximum efficiency!

Drive here.

See previous post about the Prius.

December 12, 2003 in environment, technology | Permalink | Comments (0)

To Brazil, Orville and Wilbur Were Fly-by-Nights

December marks the centennial of the first flight, but don't expect a celebration here, or anywhere else in Brazil, for that matter.

As Brazilians see it, Orville and Wilbur Wright are not heroes or pioneers, but rather villains and frauds who stole credit for the invention of the airplane from the man after whom this quiet provincial town of 46,000 is named, Alberto Santos- Dumont, a millionaire coffee grower's son and renowned bon vivant who became perhaps the most famous aviator of his day.


He committed suicide at the beach resort of Guaruja on July 23, 1932. Though he had been in and out of sanatoriums and suffered from multiple sclerosis, Brazilians are taught that he hanged himself because he was heartbroken at seeing his invention used in a civil war that was then raging here.

His lionization has intensified since 1973, the centennial of his birth. Brazil was ruled by a military dictatorship then, and the generals used him to heighten nationalist sentiment and garner popular support for their drives to manufacture airplanes and launch satellites, both of which have come to fruition.

Fly here. (registration required)

December 12, 2003 in people, technology | Permalink | Comments (1)