Improvement In ‘Iron Man’-Style Suits Could Transform The Lives Of Physically Disabled
In June the US firm Ekso arranged an unusual retail event, having gathered people at launch of a new technology shop in a science park outside Cambridge. The visitors, half of them in the wheelchairs – might try out one of its innovative devices and outfits, in conjunction with the private physiotherapy firm, Prime Physio. Yet Ekso is distinguished not only for its inventions, but also its ambitious plans: Ekso considers there’s a demand for robotic suits that not only help disabled people, but also enhance the abilities of everyone and assist with manual labour. Ekso Bionics has made the first ready-to-wear, motorised exoskeleton, dubbed the Ekso, which will be sold in Britain. This battery-powered robot suit enables paraplegics to stand and walk. Among its achievements one can name the Exohiker (produced In 2005), a bionic walking aid that allows ramblers to trek with heavier loads; a bionic hiking device, the Human Universal Load Carrier, to US defence firm Lockheed Martin (in 2009). Next year it will launch a technology aimed at people recovering from strokes. Actually, Ekso’s suits have numerous applications: Ekso doesn’t claim to offer a simple fix for paralysis, but it believes that regular exercise in the suit could help in increasing bone density, improving bladder functions, and aiding weight loss. The actual price of the exoskeleton is £100,000, adequate only for people with big compensation payouts, let’s hope it will be cheaper in some yaers day, as Andy Hayes claims, Ekso’s managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
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