By Jesse EmpakPosted 07.29.2010 at 4:52 pm 0 Comments
Charles C. Della Santina has unusual patients: disoriented chinchillas. As with many of the 4.5 million people who suffer from chronic imbalance, a damaged ear makes it nearly impossible for the animals to stand upright. This makes them perfect test subjects for a prosthetic inner ear.
The device, developed by Della Santina, an ear, nose and throat doctor at Johns Hopkins University, connects small gyroscopes and accelerometers to the brain to do the job of the inner ear.
Watching his four-year-old son tumble off a two-wheeler every time he slowed down inspired designer Scott Shim to invent a better training tool. At rest, the Shift bike's two back wheels tilt in at the top to form a stable, balance-assisting "A." When the rider leans forward-a natural tendency when pedaling faster-the weight shift activates a tension band that unites the bottom of the rear wheels into, effectively, a single wheel. As the rider slows, the wheels split again. The bike will be available this summer for about $100, minus what you'll save in Band-Aids.