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Wearable Bot Said to Make You Stronger

This is about the closest thing to a Superman suit we've seen. Put it on, say its creators, and the motorized Hybrid Assistive Limb can "expand and improve physical capability" up to tenfold in activities such as walking, standing and climbing stairs.

Through a sensor attached to the skin, "HAL" captures faint biosignals on the skin's surface that result from messages sent from the brain to muscles when a person attempts to move. A computer analyzes how much power the wearer intends to generate, then calculates the amount of torque needed to put limbs into action.

Especially noteworthy here is that the suit responds to intended motion, rather than actual motion.

"This is what we call a 'voluntary control system' that provides movement interpreting the wearer's intention from the biosignals in advance of the actual movement," according to Cyberdyne, the Japanese company that will soon begin manufacturing the cybernetic suits for about $4,200 apiece, possibly making it the first such wearable device aimed at civilians.

© Cyberdyne

The company was formed by Yoshiyuki Sankai, a professor at the University of Tsukuba who is heading up research on HAL, which he says has the advantages of both robot and cyborg. Sankai says he was inspired by reading Isaac Asimov's "I, Robot" as a child.

Given the response to steroid use in professional sports, don't expect to see athletes competing in this performance-enhancing suit any time soon. HAL is currently being used by people in Japan with weakened muscles and disabilities related to strokes and/or spinal cord injuries. It's also expected to report for heavy-labor duty support at factories, as well as rescue support at disaster sites.

Cyberdyne says the suit won't wear you down, as the exoskeleton supports its own weight. The latest battery runs for five hours under "normal activities," which we assume does not mean mountain climbing.

Ignoring the nearly unparalleled awesomeness of it for a sec.. How do you see this and other technologies like it effecting the world?

Also... Who the fuck came up with these names!?!

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really all we need to do is create flashy movies, the actual tech doesn't matter.

like that episode of Macross where the Zentradi thought we could actually shoot lightning out of our hands from watching kung-fu movies.

then again that didn't end well either.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As with most technology, I see it serving the purpose of making tasks easier. That is ultimately what all technologies do, consider that life has changes dramatically with improvements to technology. I think that it will have that same effect. The less time and effort humans have to put into things, the more time and effort they can devote to other things. People are always going to need to occupy their time, but technology just changes what that time and effort are devoted to.

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USELESS! unless i see a motha fuckin gundam it will never be good enough!


seriously though. its kind of sad most of these ideas are originally developed to kill. only after its been tested and researched for its uses in war is it furthered and passed off for use by us. little pricey*but cheap for what it is* but its potential medical uses in furthering tech for artificial limbs and helping people walk again is astounding

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USELESS! unless i see a motha fuckin gundam it will never be good enough!

something like that could happen, likely through military development. they may develop games where you can combat in the suit as well as far as the whole publicly owned and funded thing goes.... We will just have to see....

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