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Biomechatronics is a technology that combines biology, mechanical engineering, electronics and mechanics in order to research and design therapeutic, assistive and diagnostic devices that can potentially be used to compensate and eventually replace human physiological functions. The technology focuses on the interaction between human physiology and electromechanical devices or systems to imitate the human body, thus it encompasses fields such as neuroscience and robotics.
The technology has brought endless possibilities, as biomechatronic devices are capable of replacing the functionality of human organs and limbs. Pacemakers and defibrillators are considered early examples.
Biomechatronics is heavily dependent on interfacing with the human body to connect with muscles and nerves. Interfacing allows the user to send or receive information from the device, allowing for a feedback loop for better control. For the interface to happen, a mechanical sensor measures information of the biomechatronic device and relays the message to a biosensor or controller.
A great deal of analysis goes into studying human movement due to its complexity. Biosensors detect what movement a human intends to do and relays the information to a controller that is either inside or outside the biomechatronic device. Controllers then interpret the information and deliver it to an actuator. Aside from delivering the received or sent information, controllers are in charge of a biomechatronic device’s movements. Finally, receiving instructions, actuators then produce movement. The actuator can act to assist the user to move or be an actual replacement of the user’s original muscle or limb.
Despite demands, the technology struggles within the healthcare market due to its high costs. Biomechatronic devices still struggle with battery power, need of consistent mechanical aid and usability, as most still need neural connections between prosthetics and the human body. The technology is not yet advanced enough for proper human-machine interface.