Starting Friday, consumers in Japan can rent a robot suit that increases human strength by up to 10 times. The Hybrid Assistive Limb (HAL) attaches to the legs and reads electrical signals from the brain to provide limb assistance. The invention will be extremely beneficial for disabled and elderly persons who have difficulty walking. HAL works by detecting faint bioelectrical signals on the surface of the skin that result from the brain’s communication with the leg muscles. The signals are subsequently calibrated by a computer that is attached at the waist. The result is a hybrid of human and robot movements, also known as a cyborg. Cyberdyne, the company behind the invention (but with no relation to the Terminator movies), plans to widely produce HAL for the global public.
Yoshiyuki Sankai, lead designer and chief executive of Cyberdyne technology, gave a presentation of the device on October 7 at company headquarters in Tzubuka, Japan. The presentation included a video of a partially paralyzed person using the device.
“We are ready to present this to the world," said Sankai.
According to Sankai, the device weighs in at 22 pounds and can be rented at a cost of $2200 a month. There are plans to expand the HAL device into a complete body suit, but they are still in the research and development stages.