Scientists from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute have collaborated with experts from other institutions to develop a light robotic exoskeleton that would assist wearers to walk and move around. Weighing a little over 10 pounds, the exoskeleton, which actually resembles a pair of shorts, consists of a battery pack connected by wires to straps that wrap around a user’s legs. While this invention would not be suitable (yet) for severely disabled or paralyzed individuals, it does provide much-needed assistance in general movement to its users.
While some exoskeletons have applications in heavy industry, this brilliant new innovation would be a boon to the elderly, patients recovering from accidents or combat veterans and servicemen injured in the line of duty.
The battery pack, which accounts for most of the weight of the contraption, is designed to be placed near the wearer’s waist so that it won’t feel as though wearers need to drag them around. Furthermore, a tiny onboard computer senses the user’s movements through the straps that extend from the waist down and attach to the legs. Subsequently, the straps, on sensing movement provide a tiny amount of boost, making it easier for the wearer to get up from a chair, walk around, climb stairs or move around in uneven terrain.
While the system is still a few years away from being available to the general public, it does bring hope to millions of patients suffering from disabilities.