Kites have unclear origins, but many scholars believe they were invented in China, with the earliest written account of kite flying dating back to 200 BC. The use of kites eventually spread across the globe, each cultural group developing their own styles and uses for kites. For example, people in Malaysia, Indonesia and the South Pacific used kites as fishing instruments, while Chinese merchants used kites to determine whether a voyage would be successful.
Kites eventually found their way into the hands of physicists and meteorologists who began using them for scientific purposes. Electrical experiments conducted by Benjamin Franklin established the connection between lightning and electricity using a kite. The Wright Brothers’ success as pioneers of the aviation industry would also have been impossible without their impressive kite-flying abilities. Until the 1600s, kites were primarily used by adults for fun. Afterward, however, they became popular toys for children. It wasn’t until the early 1970s that kites became used for recreational sports. Kite flying competitions emerged around the world along with an extreme sport: kite surfing!
Kites have been used throughout history to discover new and exciting things about the world, but there is so much more to learn. The KITE Research Institute at the University Health Network (UHN) is taking the kite, a symbol of innovation and progress, above and beyond the clouds! KITE – which stands for Knowledge, Innovation, Talent, Everywhere – is dedicated to helping improve the lives of everyday people living with the effects of disability, aging and illness. The research group has four main areas of focus:
1. Prevention of disability
2. Restoration of function following injury or illness
3. Enabling independent living at home
4. Optimization of the rehab system
With ten research labs studying everything from patient care to sleep science, KITE is already succeeding in its mission to be a trailblazer in research, education, knowledge translation and clinical application. With a deeper understanding of issues surrounding disability, aging and illness, the scientists, trainees and staff at KITE believe they can make a difference in the lives of millions and help UHN achieve its overall vision of creating a healthier world!