CYBATHLON: Shaping the Future of Assistive Technology for a More Inclusive World
In the dynamic field of assistive technology, CYBATHLON emerges as a global catalyst for innovation and inclusivity. CYBATHLON challenges teams to push the boundaries of technology and address real-world needs faced by people with disabilities. In this piece, CYBATHLON Co-Heads Roland Sigrist and Annegret Kern share insights on the meticulous planning behind CYBATHLON, its transformative impact, and the collaborative spirit shaping a more inclusive future.
In a groundbreaking effort to push the boundaries of assistive technology and foster inclusivity, CYBATHLON, a unique competition of ETH Zurich, is changing lives globally. Roland Sigrist sheds light on the intricate planning behind the event and its evolution. He explains, "We engage end-users, scientists, engineers, researchers and past participants to shape CYBATHLON tasks every four years. The goal is to address real-world needs and push technological boundaries." He further emphasizes the collaborative spirit, stating, "It's a community effort, and the 2024 event introduces new challenges like winding stairs, requiring cutting-edge technology."
The global impact of CYBATHLON became evident during the 2020 pandemic, as Sigrist reflects, "The multi-hub approach allowed teams worldwide to participate, fostering inclusivity." Teams are judged by volunteer officials globally, ensuring fairness, with a standardized setup for every race.
Annegret Kern emphasizes the event's mission: "Our goal is a world without barriers, promoting inclusive technology for daily life." She recalls the emotional milestone of the first arm prosthesis race in 2016, stating, "It was a great day that showcased the power of CYBATHLON."
Kern shares insights on raising awareness: "Through media, social platforms, and live-streamed events in multiple languages including sign language, we ensure global visibility. The stories of our pilots and their technologies help people understand the impact of assistive technology."
Discussing the future, Kern acknowledges progress but sees challenges, saying, "There's much to do in promoting research and inclusion. CYBATHLON can make a significant impact by fostering awareness and innovation."
On a personal note, Kern expresses excitement about prototypes, saying, "Students' ideas and solutions are encouraging. Even a slow exoskeleton can be revolutionary for someone with mobility challenges."
To sum it up, both Sigrist and Kern extend an invitation to potential CYBATHLON participants. Sigrist encourages teams, stating, "It's an experience for the whole team – a journey toward a more inclusive world." Kern echoes this sentiment, emphasizing the impact: "It's a step toward new technologies and a more inclusive world, so go for it." Their testimonies reflect not just competition, but a global movement towards a world without barriers.
With each race, prototype, and innovation, CYBATHLON paves the way for a more inclusive and accessible future, inspiring teams to join this transformative journey toward technological advancements and societal inclusivity.