The opening ceremony for World Cup 2014 will take place in Sao Paolo today (Thursday June 12) at the 68,000-seater Arena Corinthians Stadium and is to feature a paraplegic teenager who will get into what’s being described as an Iron Man-like exoskeleton that will allow him to take the tournament’s first kick using signals from his brain.

This robotic suit has been designed as part of the international ‘Walk Again Project’, a result of 30 years’ work, developed by Brazilian doctor Miguel Nicolelis and 156 scientists from around the world. It will use motorised metal braces to support and bend the teenager’s legs. Signals will be sent wirelessly to a computer worn by the wearer, converting them into movements. “It’s the first time an exoskeleton has been controlled by brain activity and offered feedback to the patients,” Nicolelis, a neuroscientist at Duke University, told AFP.

“Doing a demonstration in a stadium is something very much outside our routine in robotics. It’s never been done before.” The device was named by the Scientists, ‘Bra-Santos Dumont’, a combination of the three-letter sporting code for Brazil and Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian inventor who designed, built, and flew the first practical dirigible, demonstrating that routine, controlled flight was possible by flying around the Eiffel Tower.

In addition to that, 600 dancers (who won’t be in superhero exoskeletons, sadly) will take part in the 25-minute show performing alongside a ‘living’ LED (light- emitting diode) ball. Jennifer Lopez will be among them, having overturned her decision to pull out of performing the official World Cup song, ‘We Are One’ at the ceremony because of unspecified “production issues”.

We Are One has been viewed more than 75 million times on YouTube, and More than 60,000 fans will be in Sao Paulo’s Corinthians Arena, including 12 heads of state, and around one billion people are expected to watch the opening ceremony. Jennifer Lopez decided to perform the tournament’s official song “We Are One (Ole Ola)” along with rapper Pitbull and Claudia Leitte.

Deputy Editor at Kawowo Sports. He is an aspiring Sport Psychologist.

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