In Tokyo, people with severe paralysis and physical handicaps are using their minds to lead a new life in the online world of Second Life. By attaching electrodes to key areas on the scalp, a person can control their avatar (virtual rendering of themselves) online just by thinking about it. Sound like something out of a sci-fi novel? Well, it’s happening. The project, lead by Junichi Ushiba at Keio University, may one day allow disabled and handicapped people to make friends, walk around, conduct business, and attend social gatherings in the virtual world. From the Reuters press release:
“When people are paralyzed, of course their lives become restricted,” said Ushiba, as a graduate student took a virtual stroll through the historic streets of Kyoto, Japan’s ancient capital, without moving a muscle. “With this technology we can interpret their intention to move, allowing them to go shopping in Second Life or even set up a business.”
What does this mean for business? It’s hard to say at such an early stage, but it’s certainly exciting to imagine a future where, with the help of breakthrough technologies, people can return to a “normal” life after sustaining serious injuries. Visit Reuters to learn more.