Medical research

How AI is revolutionizing medical science

Walk into Patrick Pilarski's lab and you immediately notice the robot arms and hands that lay casually on tabletops. You hear the soft whir of small motors as the fingers on these models curl, wave or extend. The motions ...

Ophthalmology

Artificial vision: what people with bionic eyes see

Visual prostheses, or "bionic eyes", promise to provide artificial vision to visually impaired people who could previously see. The devices consist of micro-electrodes surgically placed in or near one eye, along the optic ...

Health

From the bionic ear to the 'audiologist in your pocket'

An Australian company has completed a trifecta of tools to help Australians take care of their own hearing without the stress and expense of audiology visits. It's the product of decades of government-backed research.

Cardiology

BiVACOR bionic heart in development in Texas

(Medical Xpress)—A bionic heart is under development in Houston, Texas, which has been steadily generating interest over the past several years. According to Dylan Baddour in the Houston Chronicle on Thursday, researchers ...

Other

Lithuanian gets life-changing bionic arm

Martynas Girulis cannot stop moving. He forks a few potatoes onto his plate, pours himself a glass of water, drinks it through a straw, then gets right back up.

Ophthalmology

Man among first in US to get 'bionic eye' (Update)

A degenerative eye disease slowly robbed Roger Pontz of his vision. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa as a teenager, Pontz has been almost completely blind for years. Now, thanks to a high-tech procedure that involved the ...

Medical research

Bionic ankle 'emulates nature'

These days, Hugh Herr, an associate professor of media arts and sciences at MIT, gets about 100 emails daily from people across the world interested in his bionic limbs.

Psychology & Psychiatry

Touch and vision vital for sight

Researchers at Monash University Gippsland hope to improve the sight of people receiving visual prosthetics, such as bionic eyes, by proving the importance of both 'touch' and 'vision' to how we see.

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Bionics

Bionics (also known as biomimicry, biomimetics, bio-inspiration, biognosis, and close to bionical creativity engineering) is the application of biological methods and systems found in nature to the study and design of engineering systems and modern technology.[citation needed]

The word bionic was coined by Jack E. Steele in 1958, possibly originating from the technical term bion (pronounced bee-on) (from Ancient Greek: βίος), meaning 'unit of life' and the suffix -ic, meaning 'like' or 'in the manner of', hence 'like life'. Some dictionaries, however, explain the word as being formed as a portmanteau from biology + electronics. It was popularized by the 1970s television series The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, which were influenced by Steele's work, and feature humans given superhuman powers by electromechanical implants.

The transfer of technology between lifeforms and manufactures is, according to proponents of bionic technology, desirable because evolutionary pressure typically forces living organisms, including fauna and flora, to become highly optimized and efficient. A classical example is the development of dirt- and water-repellent paint (coating) from the observation that the surface of the lotus flower plant is practically unsticky for anything (the lotus effect).[citation needed]

The term "biomimetic" is preferred when reference is made to chemical reactions.[citation needed] In that domain, biomimetic chemistry refers to reactions that, in nature, involve biological macromolecules (for example, enzymes or nucleic acids) whose chemistry can be replicated using much smaller molecules in vitro.

Examples of bionics in engineering include the hulls of boats imitating the thick skin of dolphins; sonar, radar, and medical ultrasound imaging imitating the echolocation of bats.

In the field of computer science, the study of bionics has produced artificial neurons, artificial neural networks, and swarm intelligence. Evolutionary computation was also motivated by bionics ideas but it took the idea further by simulating evolution in silico and producing well-optimized solutions that had never appeared in nature.

It is estimated by Julian Vincent, professor of biomimetics at the University of Bath's department of mechanical engineering (Biomimetics group), that "at present there is only a 12% overlap between biology and technology in terms of the mechanisms used".

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