Cyberdyne isn’t just the company responsible for Skynet in the Terminator films. It’s also a real R&D firm in — where else? — Japan. Yoshiyuki Sankai from the University of Tsukuba founded the company to develop technologies to benefit humans, and, as we all know, that always ends well. At CES in Las Vegas this weekend they showed off their thought-controlled exoskeleton, which weighs a mere 22 pounds (10 kg) yet can allow people with very weakened legs to walk and even climb stairs. They currently rent this device to hospitals in Japan for around $1500 per month. They’ve also been contacted by the U.S. military about the design.
The suit works on intent: the user needs only to “think” of moving his or her legs — the suit does the rest. That’s because the brain sends signals to the muscles of the legs, and the sensors detect them. “Once I figured out how to stop trying to walk in the suit and just let the suit walk for me, the experience was almost transparent,” [Evan] Ackerman said. [IEEE Spectrum, emphasis mine]
That is both outstanding and terrifying. They’ve named this awesome beast a Hybrid Assistive Limb. Yeah. HAL. It’s called HAL. The company — freaking Cyberdyne — has created a thought-controlled exoskeleton and named it after the computer in 2001. Damn it so much, Japan.
Awesome, surprisingly less scary than expected video after the jump:
Well, a little scary.
[Evan Ackerman's article on the HAL can be found at DVICE.]