It’s #WatchOutForTheRobots Wednesday!

“Watch out for the robots” is just a phrase we use whenever we see a crazy technology that clearly has the potential to be pretty darn scary if it ever were to go awry. No, no, this isn’t because we have a pessimistic view of the future (though phronesis in all technological developments / applications is important), we just love finding/sharing this stuff.

Imagine if you were confined to a wheel chair, unable to move independently, and suddenly you were given the ability to stand up and walk around with a natural gait. Ekso Bionics’ innovative robotics program has developed a unique exoskeleton that can help people with lower extremity weakness or even complete paralysis to stand and walk.

Ekso™ is a wearable bionic suit that operates using the user’s weight to activate 15 sensors which stimulate walking movement. The legs are driven by four battery-powered motors which substitute neuromuscular function. This robotic enhancement is designed to help individuals who have suffered debilitating illnesses, such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, or spinal cord injury. The exoskeleton can accommodate patients who may have only minor motor ability and has a solid record of enabling them to walk in just their first session.

Comfortable and easy to wear, the bionic suit is strapped over the user’s clothing and takes only minutes to adjust to the patient’s size. Ekso uses Step Generator software to help patients start walking, develop a symmetrical gait pattern and generate an appropriate step program.

Founded in Berkeley, California in 2005, Ekso, originally Berkeley Bionics, continues to develop innovative exoskeleton  technologies to enhance human mobility. The project to develop “wearable robots” began as a project with the military and was funded by DARPA. The groundbreaking technology ensures that the weight of the suit—usually about 50 pounds—is transferred all the way to the ground so that the wearer doesn’t feel the weight at all.

Ekso aims to assist people who depend on wheelchairs to live a fuller life by enabling them to become more independently mobile.

Image credit: Ekso Bionics

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