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CYBATHLON Makes Competition a Catalyst for Advancing Assistive Technologies

Nov 11, 2020
It’s not every tournament that begins with a Brain-Computer Interface Race.

The CYBATHLON from ETH Zurich aims to inspire research and development of technology to assist people with physical disabilities in going about their lives, while also encouraging dialogue on inclusion for people with disabilities. On November 13 and 14, dozens of teams from all over the world will come together—remotely—to compete in completing everyday tasks using the newest technology.

“The CYBATHLON treats inclusion not as an outcome, but as premise, inviting a range of stakeholders into the conversation,” said SNF Senior Program Officer Eleni Agouridi. “Through our global grantmaking work, SNF aims to create a more just society, one where people have access to the resources they need to thrive and where inclusion is the norm in all spheres of life. Achieving this vision will require challenging assumptions, collaborating across institutions and across national and disciplinary boundaries, and changing the underlying conditions we face. The CYBATHLON embodies just this sort of effort.”

Dr. Heini Murer, member of the SNF Board of Directors, further commented, “Our current situation, in which virtual events like this are the norm, results from a rapid paradigm shift—a new way of doing things suddenly became possible because it suddenly became necessary. It raises the question of what other fundamental transformations could be achieved if we perceived them as necessary.”

The CYBATHALON, which is supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), also includes a symposium, which took place online from September 17 to 18. SNF has also provided support for a new Professorship in Architecture and Care as part of ETH Zurich’s Rehab Initiative, launched in late 2019.