The Premiere: CYBATHLON 2016
Looking at the millions of people who use technical assistance systems in their daily lives, Robert Riener, head of the professorship for sensorimotor systems, ETH Zurich, initiated the CYBATHLON in 2013.
The idea for the CYBATHLON was inspired by athletes, such as the first runner with a motorised leg prosthesis to climb the Chicago Willis Tower and the first runner with lower body paralysis to use an exoskeleton to run London Marathon.
The CYBATHLON was launched as a platform for exchange between people with disabilities, technology providers and the public in order to raise awareness of the challenges faced by those with disabilities and to promote the development of assistive technologies.
The structure of the event and the associated activities (Hands-On-Demos to showcase the limitations and possibilities of assistance devices, school programme and Meet and Greet) was the result of exchanges with multiple people who use assistive technologies due to disability, and partners from disability organisations, hospitals, industry and politics. In addition, through numerous interviews and within the framework of the scientific symposium, discourse on the potential for future technical assistive systems to facilitate the inclusion of people with disabilities within wider society was strengthened and deepened.
The CYBATHLON Symposium 2016
The CYBATHLON grew to be a meaningful event which interactively showcased the interplay between humans and technology. Key points of success are summarised below:
- 66 pilots started with 56 teams from 25 nations in six disciplines
- 4,600 visitors (sold out), of which 60 wheelchair users, >90% rated themselves as very happy with the event
- Over 500 imprints in high circulation magazines and newspapers e.g. Financial Times, New York Times, NZZ, Sports Illustrated, Spiegel, Stern, Tagesanzeiger, The Herald, Washington Post, Wired, Yumiori Shimbun
- Highly visible documentaries, e.g. 3Sat, ARTE, BBC, CNN, NHK, SRF
- Over 4,500 video reports by teams, visitors and media agents, e.g. engadget
- Published in scientific journals, e.g. Nature, IEEE Spectrum, JNER, RAM