If all goes to plan, a paralysed young adult will use an exoskeleton controlled by their thoughts to take the first kick of the football tournament in Thursday's opening ceremony in São Paulo, Brazil. The exoskeleton belongs to the Walk Again Project, an international collaboration using technology to overcome paralysis.
Since December, the project has been training eight paralysed people to use the suit, which supports the lower body and is controlled by brain activity detected by a cap of electrodes placed over the head. The brain signals are sent to a computer, which converts them into movement.
Lead robotic engineer Gordon Cheng, at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, says that there is a phenomenal amount of technology within the exoskeleton, including sensors that feed information about pressure and temperature back to the arms of the user, which still have sensation. The team hopes this will replicate to some extent the feeling of kicking a ball.