What's the Latest Development?
A powerful exoskeleton is helping stroke patients and victims of spinal cord injuries to walk again. "The prototype device is called the Lower-extremity Powered ExoSkeleton, or LOPES, and works by training the body and mind of a patient to recover a more natural step." Developed over the last several years at the University of Twente in Enschede in the Netherlands, the device "can do all the walking for the patient, or it can offer targeted support in either one leg or with one element of the walking process."
What's the Big Idea?
Commercial versions of the product could be developed as early as next year. Beyond victims of medical injuries, the lower-extremity exoskeleton is being designed with military function in mind. A California company is developing an exoskeleton that "enables infantry soldiers to lift and carry weights of up to 90kg in the field, and consists of a hydraulic-powered frame which straps around the soldier's body." In the future, exoskeleton devices may be used by aging individuals to keep pace with younger ones when families are out and about.