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Brazil decided to inaugurate their World Cup by showing us a taste of the future: Juliano Pinto, a 29-year-old paraplegic man, gave the inaugural kick-off by using an exoskeleton controlled by electric signals transmitted from his brain through a helmet; the brainchild –no pun intended– of Duke University neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis, leader of the Walk Again project.

One small kick for a man, one giant leap in human/robotic integration.

“The World Cup demonstration is ceremonial, as we have only a moment to show a kick,” Sanjay Joshi, a roboticist from the University of California at Davis who was involved in the Walk Again Project, told NBC News via email from Brazil. “But maybe that kick will inspire a child somewhere in the world to become a doctor, engineer or scientist.”

Who knows? Perhaps 20 years from now, the most popular sports competitions will involve cyborgs instead of ‘un-enhanced’ athletes.

Links: ‘We Did It!’ Brain-Controlled ‘Iron Man’ Suit Kicks Off World Cup