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Smart walkers lead the way for Japanese elder-care robots

Tim Hornyak | Oct. 17, 2014
If you're growing old in Japan, chances are you'll have some form of robotic help in the future.

The ministry is also behind the latest strength-boosting device from Cyberdyne, a robotics startup that developed the HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) powered exoskeleton, which can be used by spinal-cord injury patients.

Weighing 3 kilograms, the HAL for Back Load Reduction is a power-assist device that hugs a user's lower back and thighs. It's designed to give caregivers a boost by reducing the load on their bodies when helping patients in and out of bed.

The device works through electrodes that pick up faint electrical signals on the skin's surface emitted when the brain instructs muscles to move.

"We're using robotics to help people in the nursing field who have lower back pain," said Cyberdyne's Tatsuro Muranaka, who was showing off the device alongside a video that showed users lifting a person out of bed.

However, the back-assist device will first be used by construction workers at major Japanese contractor Obayashi. Cyberdyne is renting out the devices for ¥120,000 (US$1,123) each per month.


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