Embedded electronic technology is all around. One may live in a digitized house, ride a car or subway train that has embedded sensors and detectors and work using an integrated company network. One can eat lunch in restaurants or play in amusement centers that have integrated computers, screens and controllers.
Embedded electronics technology is not limited to data transfer, sharing and storage. Many health-care related products also utilize embedded electronics to improve the quality of life. More advanced prosthetic limbs with microprocessors are being developed to bring comfort, stability and balance to handicapped but active members of society.
Embedded Human Body Systems
Newer forms of prosthetic limbs are entering the market. Otto Bock Healthcare is the first to develop and sell artificial limbs – the DynamicArm and C-Leg.
The DynamicArm is the worldâ€™s first microprocessor-controlled adaptive arm. Its processor uses a microcontroller to enable communication among sensors, processors and motors. This gives DynamicArm the ability to adapt to various weight loads and conditions. It works by reading nerve actions from the living arm and translating these signals into computerized movement. DynamicArm is strong enough to lift things that are many times its weight.
The C-Leg, or Computerized Leg, is the first commercially available microprocessor-controlled artificial limb. It works like an instantaneous computer, continuously processing information gathered from various sensors to complement the movement of the other leg. It accomplishes this by controlling hydraulic and damping systems for every step. A wireless remote control is also in place so users can change modes during high-speed activities like speed skating, cycling, etc. C-Leg also has a Standing Mode that could stabilize the userâ€™s stance, so as not to cause fatigue to other parts of the body.
Built in power could support continuous use for nearly two days and it is approved for use by individuals weighing around 275 pounds. C-Leg also comes with bionic software that lets a user customize the prosthetic limbs for safer and optimal use.
Other Embedded Electronics Equipment
Other types of embedded equipment are also available for handicapped individuals. Otto Bock Health care has also developed the SuperFour, an off-road, motor-driven wheelchair that has embedded sensors, GPS and processor. It can monitor a person’s health status indicators such as pulse rates, breath rates, blood pressure, etc. It can also report the person’s geographic location, ground topography and fuel/battery supply levels. SuperFour will sound an alarm if the wheelchair begins to tip or when indicators are showing dangerously high or dangerously low levels.
Paragolfer is another motorized transport from the same company designed for use by handicapped individuals. It aims to help handicapped people play golf outdoors. Like the SuperFour, it can drive through uneven terrains. However, it can help the passenger stand upright without preventing free shoulder movement.