There’s no doubt that technology has had a profound impact on the human body. We’ve gone from using simple tools to enhance our natural abilities, to having bionic implants that allow us to do things we never could before.
Bionic technology doesn’t just serve as a replacement for a natural limb or an alternative to a prosthetic limb – it also offers technology to enhance the human body and push beyond the limits that the body can naturally attain
This blog post will explore some of the latest technological advancements designed to improve and enhance the human body. So whether you’re interested in keeping up with the latest trends or simply curious about what the future holds, read on!
Bionics may mainly focus on body repair, but such objectives have always been just half what it can do. After all, second to restoration is enhancement.
However, a few operational designs and fundamental principles need to be considered to achieve the wonders of bionic bodies regarding body enhancement.
Depending on the specific end goal, we can either build from a normal person’s abilities or start from body repair for someone with prosthetic limbs, for example, prosthetic arms, then progress onto enhancement.
Features of Technology to Enhance the Human Body
The simplest method of enhancing the body using bionic technology is to improve on what we can already do. If we can carry a heavy load, then bionics can find a way to let us carry even more. If we can see a certain distance, bionics can provide additional options to enhance our viewing ability even further.
We’ll divide these enhancements into simpler categories of our definition for better clarification:
Strength enhancement–powered exoskeletal suits, as rudimentary as they seem to be compared to their science fiction counterparts, already play a role in many practical, real-world applications.
The objective is to transfer as much of the load as possible from the human body while still maintaining movement and positioning freedom as the user sees fit.
For example, workers augmented with an enhanced bionic system would be free from customized control panels. Instead, they would simply use their arms intuitively, supported by mechatronic components that bear the bulk of the carrying weight.
Many powered exoskeletons in development by military contractors work in this exact way. Lockheed Martin’s ONYX exoskeletal suit, for example, easily conforms to the human body while considerably increasing the strength of the person wearing it.
Strain and stress reduction – along with the bionic system’s ability to carry loads greater than what normal people can– are also typically designed to lessen the movement burden for the person using them.
Again, load transfer is still the main objective. But this time, the result is increasing the effective duration that a person could accomplish the same task over and over.
Walking is fairly easy, and a person can adapt to long walking distances within a short period. But that time is cut further with an exoskeletal suit or external bionic body part modifications.
For those already trained, it greatly increases the maximum effective distance they could travel without the risk of wearing out their legs.
This is especially useful when walking uphill for a long time or while constantly carrying a moderate set of equipment.
This can even work well within the adaptive augmentation category. For instance, people who do not require limb amputation (and therefore cannot use myoelectric prosthetics), can still opt to use an exoskeleton suit to regain and potentially surpass their original capability to walk or hold things.
This is the exact case for Ekso Bionics, helping disabled people to move normally again with the aid of what the company officially refers to as “wearable robots.”
Enhancing the human body by adding brand bionic devices
But perhaps the more exciting feature that bionic technology has in store for enhancing the human body is giving us abilities that we don’t naturally possess.
This is where many of the bionic limb features we see in science fiction materialize, possibly inspiring actual research institutions to explore the reality of such ideas.
Load balance offsetting and adjustment – to expound on the last great aspect of powered exoskeletal technology, an enhancement-based bionic system with multiple bionic limbs can also be automatically configured to balance the weight distribution of components around a human body.
This is so that motion and posture can be maintained as you walk or run. For example, the user could be holding a heavy, metallic object upright, and the load-bearing system can simply swing counterweights opposite to the direction it is trying to move.
You can add more artificial limbs and carry more objects while accessing different things with those extra appendages.
Think of something like the cybernetic tentacles of Otto Octavius. This encroaches into fantasy sci-fi, with its individual technologies still requiring a few decades of maturity before a practical prototype can be built.
Dynamic sensory efficiency adjustment – if we can roll all bionic organ technologies into one great invention, we could theoretically develop something like Superman’s eyes, enhanced hearing, etc. Lasers are off the menu, of course. But we have a few candidate research projects and commercial products that could prove such a concept may be feasible in the future.
- First is focus adjustment and clarity focus. With something like a perfected version of the Ocumetics Bionic Lens, the average user can simply increase or decrease the level of depth and detail that each eye can see. You could narrow the focus for creative handiwork projects or see far, far away when scouting for objects at a distance. You can even use it despite already having an existing vision condition since you can simply recalibrate the dynamic lense to balance out the sight level discrepancy.
- Second is imprinting additional light information onto one’s retina. If the Argus II and Orion can send intensity and pixel information signals to the brain, then surely a more advanced version of the technology could interpret additional electromagnetic signals to your brain. For example, if there’s a blind, deep spot that you need to take caution of, or if certain light sources will be harmful to your body.
- And third is controlling your hearing level. The now-closed Doppler Labs had such a concept with its Here One earbuds, having basic features such as filtering specific types of sounds (as opposed to more generic noise-canceling functions) and increasing the reception level for selected acoustic patterns. A more internalized version of this concept might be possible in the near future, although with no active commercial entities pursuing the concept, we may yet to see if it could even get off the drawing board.
Digitizing all physiological information – lastly, and one that we can’t elaborate too much on given the limited scope of the concept so far, is the idea that one day, all data processing of bionic systems can be handled directly by the brain.
This is, to some extent, already nearing basic-level fruition with smart eyewear concepts, or even the fabled Neuralink system. But we hope for something more ambitious, like how video games can analyze a player’s health statistics in real time.
Do you want to spend a fortune on bionic enhancement?
The idea of achieving transhumanism through bionic enhancements is exciting, but how exactly should one accomplish this?
It is hardly believable that these technologies would be available to the average person even in a few decades. However, if a commercial entity finds a way to roll them out, the exclusivity would make the complete package only available to the highest financial elites.
But on a more fundamental level, do we even need these enhancements? Perhaps it is much better to treat them as investments, with the lower class people only choosing to spend their fortune on the technology if a considerable return is to be had.
Or if a disability forces them to rely on bionic technologies in the first place.