A paraplegic man has made the first kick of the World Cup using a mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton.
The robotic exoskeleton was created by a team of more than 150 researchers led by Brazilian neuroscientist Dr Miguel Nicolelis.
"It’s the first time an exoskeleton has been controlled by brain activity and offered feedback to the patients," Dr Nicolelis, a neuroscientist at Duke University, told the AFP news agency.
The exoskeleton uses a cap placed on the patient’s head to pick up brain signals and relay them to a computer in the exoskeleton’s backpack.
Dr Cheng led the development of a form of artificial skin for the exoskeleton. This skin consists of flexible printed circuit boards, each containing pressure, temperature and speed sensors.
It is applied on the soles of the feet and allows the patient to receive tactile stimulation when walking with the exoskeleton. When the robotic suit starts to move and touches the ground, signals are transmitted to an electronic vibration device on the patient’s arm, which stimulates their skin.
After lots of practice, the brain starts associating the movements of the legs with the vibration in the arm. In theory, the patient should start to develop the sensation that they have legs and that they are walking.