Fly like a Bird? Get Human Birdwings

From the dawn of humankind we have been creating technologies to extend our given bodies: a coat to survive in colder climates, a gun to kill at a distance, a car to travel faster. Typically, however, our technological extensions not only amplify but also numb certain aspects of our bodies. Examples? Just think of when you find yourself in a fitness center as you grew too fat from driving a car and not walking.

Arguably, the most desirable technologies are the ones that that take the human condition as a cornerstone. They resonate with our human senses (rather than numb them), feel natural (rather than estranging), empower people (rather than outsource them), and that realize the dreams people have of themselves. For lack of a better word we call them ‘humane technologies’.

Now here is an example what might be the most humane technology since the invention of the bicycle. Dutch mechanical-engineer Jarno Smeets dreams of flying like bird. Nothing new really, many people have had this dream for ages. Yet being an engineer and all, the guy is seriously propelling his dream towards a reality.

Using the accelerometers of the WiiMote and a smartphone, Jarnos is building a pair of human birdwings. Although there are still some serious technological hurdles to be taken – the birdwings will have to be semi-human powered as human muscle power isn’t sufficient to carry a person up into the air – the results so far are already impressive. Lift us Jarno!

The Haptic Wing mechanism

A sketch of the mechanism


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