Enhancements or improvements to normal human health, quality of life, performance, and usefulness are provided through human augmentation technology.
These can include highly contentious changes to the human body or brain, as well as basic devices like reading glasses.
What Are Augmentation Technologies and How Do They Work?
We describe augmentation technologies as those that become ingrained in a person’s daily routine.
Augmentation technologies are divided into three categories:
- Those who try to duplicate what we already have (like prosthetic limbs).
- Those who help us better a skill we already have (like making us smarter or stronger).
- Those who introduce a new skill (like seeing infrared light).
Glasses with Intelligence
Smart glasses, which are a big step forward from regular spectacles, are designed to provide users a glimpse of augmented reality.
This may be as simple as picturing a screen similar to a computer monitor, or it could be as complex as overlaying relevant information on top of the real environment.
Many of these technologies are still in their early stages, with the best currently having a restricted field of vision (FOV) and battery life.
We now have cochlear implants, which allow a person to hear without the use of external hearing aids.
These function by bypassing the ear’s normal biology and directly activating the hearing nerve.
Cochlear implants can restore hearing far more successfully than hearing aids in some circumstances.
While we may not yet have bionic eyes, we do have a lot of things that are getting near.
For example, eSight is working on a wearable gadget with cameras that shows an image of the surroundings in front of the user’s eyes, allowing legally blind persons to see.
Contact lenses with a built-in 2.8x zoom have also been produced by Swiss researchers, while Samsung has patented a contact lens design that can provide an augmented reality display.
Waverly Labs has also developed a pair of earphones that can translate foreign languages to the wearer in real-time.
These are still under development at the time of writing, but such technology would eliminate the need to learn other languages.
Plastic surgery was first developed to cure and restore the look of war and burn victims, but it is today also used to change and improve one’s appearance.
Plastic surgery has gone a long way since its inception, from relatively unnoticeable operations like botox injections to full-on facial remodelling.
Orthodontics, which isn’t frequently thought of as a human enhancement technology, allows you to preserve and repair the function of your teeth and gums.
It’s come a long way since you were putting chunks of wood in your mouth (like the famous myth about George Washington).
Complete, lifelike tooth replacements and veneers are now accessible.
In recent years, the engineering of prostheses has advanced dramatically.
There are prosthesis that allow the user to have extraordinary dexterity and even imitate sensation in certain circumstances.
BrainRobotics created an AI-powered hand that can convert brain muscle impulses into precise motions.
SENSY has created a neuroprosthetic leg that can send information back to the brain, allowing the user to “feel” position, pressure, and touch through the leg.
Exoskeletons are already available on the market.
Sarcos makes the Guardian, an industrial exoskeleton that allows users to lift 200 pounds and do repeated tasks without putting additional pressure on their bodies.
There are also ankle and leg exoskeletons that boost running speed while reducing muscle work, as well as comparable technologies targeted at helping brain damage sufferers regain their ability to walk.
Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs)
While brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are still in their infancy, they currently exist and allow people to operate computers, prostheses, and other equipment only with their minds.
The IntendiX is a BCI that is now available for purchase.
Users may use their thoughts alone to compose messages and operate external equipment.
Elon Musk’s Neuralink is a famous example of BCI technology, which seeks to build BCIs capable of treating brain injuries and ailments, eventually providing a complete symbiosis with artificial technology.
However, Neuralink is still in its early stages of research and is unlikely to provide results anytime soon.
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