The World Cup’s Historic First Kick

If you are like much of the world, your eyes have likely been glued to coverage of the World Cup. During this year’s games, there are sure to be some jaw-dropping moments — but none will likely be as incredible as the first kick.

The ceremonial first kick was completed by Juliano Pinto from Brazil. What makes his kick so incredible is that he is paralyzed from the waist down. He completed the kick wearing a mind-controlled exoskeleton — yes, REALLY.

You may remember that we covered this topic when plans were announced in January. Here’s an excerpt:

The exoskeleton looks very similar to other exoskeletons supporting the lower body. The main difference is how it is controlled. The teen will wear wireless electrodes on his or her head that will collect brainwaves. These brainwaves send signals to the robotic suit, and those signals are turned into movement.

So how exactly does it work? The brain is made up of billions of neurons, or nervous system cells that transmit information throughout the body. Neurons are responsible for many different tasks in the body, including movement. More neurons communicate more information, making it important for the electrodes to monitor as many neurons as possible. Before this exoskeleton, the most neurons this type of technology could monitor was 200 at a time; this system monitors 2,000. While similar mind-controlled limbs have been demonstrated before, thanks to this more sensitive technology, this will be the first demonstration using two limbs at once.

Pretty cool, huh? And on Thursday, this technology was used to deliver the ceremonial first kick at the 2014 World Cup. Unfortunately, the camera crew had a pretty big mishap — they did not film it! They only caught the very last second. And while the following clip is brief, it is no less incredible.



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