Robotic suit that helps people with mobility problems available for rent in Japan

yuki_yoshi.jpgCyberdyne a new company in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan will mass-produce a robotic suit that reads brain signals and helps people with mobility problems. HAL- short for hybrid assistive limb -is a computerized suit with sensors that read brain signals directing limb movement through the skin. The robotic suit will be available for rent in Japan for ¥220,000 ($2,200) a month .The invention may have far-reaching benefits for the disabled and elderly. The 10-kg battery-operated computer system is belted to the waist. It captures the brain signals and relays them to mechanical leg braces strapped to the thighs and knees, which then provide robotic assistance to people as they walk. HAL comes in three sizes — small, medium and large — and also has a one-leg version for a ¥150,000 ($15,000) rental fee. The one –leg version weighs approximately 6 kg (excluding battery).

Mr Sankai Cyberdyne’s chief executive said a full device that covers the entire body is also being designed, though it is unclear when it will be available commercially. Some European nations have already expressed interest, and HAL may soon be on the market there, but U.S. sales are still undecided, Sankai said. Daiwa House Industry Co. will lease HAL suits to Japanese care facilities for the elderly and others for those with disabilities. It plans to rent 500 units over the next year.