Ana Matran-Fernandez is a PhD researcher, University of Essex. The views expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer. CNN is showcasing the work of The Conversation, a collaboration between journalists and academics to provide news analysis and commentary. The content is produced solely by The Conversation.
(CNN)Following the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, this year will see the arrival of the Cybathlon, the world's first competition for parathletes and people with severe disabilities who compete with the aid of bionic implants, prosthetics and other assistive technology.
It's this focus on practical problems that has informed the design of the challenges. For example, the prosthetic arm race includes a station where the parathletes must slice a loaf of bread or pour a cup of coffee, and another where they must walk through a door while carrying a tray of objects. These are everyday activities taken for granted by most of us, but for the 15m people the World Health Organization estimates are living with disabilities, they may be difficult or impossible.
Brain as machine controller
The Cybathlon race will test competitors of the brain-computer interface race by means of a video game, in which the participants will map up to four different actions from the brain that need to be understood by the classifier of the system. The competitors must send the correct decision at the right time in order to race each others' avatars represented in the game. The best system will be the one that most accurately recognizes and quickly responds to its user's brain activity, selects the right command and so allows he or she to win the race.