Check out this video of Rex, The Robotic Exoskeleton.
An incredible advance for the disabled in providing better mobility.
Light years ahead of a wheelchair, Rex enables people to stand, walk, climb stairs, and generally lead more normal and healthy lives.
Rex is not meant to supplant the wheelchair (where you can sit), but to augment meant it (with the ability to stand).
"If you are a wheelchair user, can self transfer and use a joystick with your hand, Rex amy offer you a way to stand, move sideways, turn around, go up steps as well as walk on flat hard surfaces including ramps and slopes." (www.rexbionics.com)
The idea for REX came from the movie Aliens, where Ripley (Sigourney Weaver, the main character) fights the big mother Alien in a "Power Loader" suit. The exoskeleton designed for transporting and stacking large supply crates is used to do some serious damage to the Alien.
Exoskeletons have been explored as battle suits in movies, video games (Halo), and even in the real military as future combat wear.
Nice to see an application of the technology that can kill/maim to also heal/help people. Of course this isn't the first time military technology has been applied to the consumer market; for example, the Internet itself on which I am writing this blog, was developed by DARPA.
The point is that technology itself is not good or bad, but rather how we use it, is what determines it's ultimate effect.
According to CNN, Rex invested $10 million and seven years in developing this bionic dream machine made from 4700 parts. FDA approval is being sought, so Rex can be marketed it in the U.S.
It's not hard to imagine exoskeleton technology being used not only for helping the disabled and fighting future wars, but also for augmenting the everyday workforce as body bionics to work the fields, build our infrastructure, transport goods, and even for us intellectual types, to run between (or out of those) meetings that much faster.