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Video: Japanese Exoskeletons Stroll Through Tokyo Streets

Japanese robotics company Cyberdyne demonstrates the latest version of its HAL exoskeleton suit

1 min read

Sankai-san is back. Check out the latest demo of the HAL exoskeleton suit, invented by Yoshiyuki Sankai at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. Sankai is commercializing the suit through his company, Cyberdyne, which has recently demonstrated the system on the streets of Tokyo.

What the video doesn't show is that the suit uses bio-electrical sensors attached to the body to capture electromyogram signals on the skin and control the actuators. Cyberdyne claims that the suit can "multiply the original strength by a factor of 2 to 10."

Would that let people commute to work on foot without breaking a sweat?

For more on the technology behind the HAL suit, see this article on exoskeletons that my colleague Harry Goldstein and I wrote a while ago.

Video: NECN


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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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