NEW TECH: Cyberdyne’s Wearable Robot Suit To Help Seniors

Thursday, February 15, 2007

NEW TECH: Cyberdyne’s Wearable Robot Suit To Help Seniors

TSUKUBA, Ibaraki Pref. (Nikkei)–A wearable robot suit developed by university scientists that aids the user’s hand and leg movements may be Japan’s answer to a graying society in which a great number of people require lifestyle assistance, or so the developers hope.

The Hybrid Assistive Limb, or HAL, suit was developed by a team led by Tsukuba University professor Yoshiyuki Sankai. It is equipped with sensors that respond to the wearer’s brain signals telling muscles to move. With the legs and arms moving slightly before the user’s, the suit enables wearers to walk easily, without straining their arms or legs, and lift items weighing more than 20 kilograms. It is currently being used in trials at health care facilities specializing in the elderly.

Cyberdyne Inc., a venture set up by Tsukuba University, will team up with Daiwa House Industry Co. (1925) to produce 400 HAL suits a year. To this end, Daiwa House recently invested roughly 1 billion yen into the company through a private placement of new shares. The Tsukuba University spinoff will use the proceeds to establish a mass production infrastructure by next fall.

As early as 2008, Cyberdyne will tap the housing developer’s sales network to rent the suits, which will be used in rehabilitation programs and for lifestyle assistance.

If 400 suits are produced annually, the monthly rental charge will be between 60,000 yen and 200,000 yen, while a single suit will carry a price tag of around 500,000 yen.

Through its collaboration with Cyberdyne, Daiwa House intends to develop barrier-free housing and residential facilities for wearers of the suits. A fitness club belonging to the Daiwa House group will offer classes using the suits for rehabilitation and overall health purposes.

While wearable robots, like the one develop by Cyberdyne, have the potential to drastically change people’s lifestyles as well as production systems at factories, lowering prices and ensuring safety are among the issues that need to be addressed before the equipment can become widespread.

(The Nikkei Thursday morning edition)

Senior citizens are an important part of culture. When the senior citizens in your life start to require a little extra attention, be comforted knowing you can hire home health care services to help out. Senior care services are becoming popular for families that can’t always be there for their loved ones. Personal care services are a good way to show the elderly in your life that you care about their health and safety, even if you can’t be there.

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