Walk Like An Egyptian
Enter ... Mecha-Grandma! Japanese researchers have developed a robotic exoskeleton to help the elderly and disabled walk and even lift heavy objects like the jug of water above. It’s called the Hybrid Assistive Limb, or HAL. (The inventor has obviously never seen 2001: A Space Odyssey.) Its brain is a computer (housed in a backpack) that learns to mimic the wearer’s gait and posture; bioelectric sensors pick up signals transmitted from the brain to the muscles, so it can anticipate movements the moment the wearer thinks of them. A commercial version is in the works. Just don’t let it near the pod-bay doors.
Inventor: Yoshiyuki Sankai, University of Tsukuba
Availability: Near future, $14,000–$19,000