The beginning of an age of bionics?
Technology already extends our abilities and help to compensate for abilities we've lost. A wheelchair is an amazingly useful technological approach to help those who have lost the use of their legs to move around. But innovations from multiple research groups and start-ups are showing that even greater strides (pun intended) are about to be made. Bionics.
Maybe you've seen a Ted Talk featuring a military use of an exoskeleton to assist soldiers needing to carry heavy gear, and a wheelchair-bound woman who had suffered a spinal cord injury, using an exoskeleton to walk for the first time in many years. Or maybe you've seen a holiday episode of the popular television show Glee in which Artie (a glee club member who uses a wheelchair) dons an exoskeleton to walk.
This month, a company called Exso Bionics is making their exoskeleton available commercially. The Exso Bionics web site says that "Ekso is the bionic exoskeleton that allows wheelchair users to stand and walk." Sounds simple.
The price tag is still roughly $100,000. But it's fair to assume that the price can come down with manufacturing efficiencies and volume.
Do you think we'll start to see people using exoskeletons in every day life in the next few years? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.