Biomedical technology continues to improve, creating artificial wombs, artificial heart tissue, smart bandages, treat paralysis, and what not. All to help the human kind in disease and distress. Exoskeleton technology has been around for quite some time but generally with the purpose of providing superhuman strength to soldiers or workers or assist the disabled in walking. There is a new exoskeleton system, that won’t just aid in walking, it will make sure you never tumble.
As you grow old, it becomes a problem to keep your balance at all times, and not fall somewhere. Falling at such ages is even worse as healing is far slower in the elderly as compared to a young person. Scientists at the Scuola Sant’Anna in Italy and EPFL in Switzerland, together have come up with a genius solution to create a smart exoskeleton that will counter the loss of balance in the elderly or recover balance after a slip.
The carbon fiber skeleton begins on the waist with motors on The hip. the system adjusts to the gait of the wearer in a few seconds, learning the particulars, and calibrating the algorithm. If there is a deviation from the normal walking style, it will anticipate that the wearer is about to fall and take immediate action. The motors push down on the thighs when the wearer loses balance and regain stability.
A 69-year-old Fulvio Bertelli was recruited to test the prototype, walking on a treadmill designed to cause tumbling, and the man commented, “I feel more confident when I wear the exoskeleton.”
The first prototype is overly mechanical, sturdy, and looks uncomfortable, but as the team has demonstrated that the technology works so, future improvements could make it into a practical device that is convenient for the public to use. The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports. Professor Nicola Vitiello from Scuola Sant’Anna commented, “This work paves the way for imagining a completely new generation of exoskeletons that will be effective outside of research laboratories thanks to their ability to augment users’ movement and make their mobility more stable and safe.”