Technology is really doing amazing things. Being confined to a wheel chair for your entire life is something many of us have difficulty even imagining. Small things most of us take for granted like the ability to make eye contact without looking upward is something that up until now just wasn’t possible for those paralyzed. A company called Berkeley Bionics is working to change all of that with the first “practical” exoskeleton.
Berkeley Bionics’s Elegs
The elegs by Berkeley Bionics are a relatively lightweight and portable exoskeleton system that allows those paralyzed from the waist downs to walk again. The elegs are based on HULC technology, which was developed by the US military to allow lifting things heavier than 200 pounds. The person operating the elegs first has their lower body securely snapped into the exoskeleton. A series of complex sensors in the elegs then help the user move one leg forward and evenly distribute their weight. The elegs users hands, meanwhile, use crutches to ensure balance when switching legs. While the system is being developed so anyone can use it, right now it works best with those who were recently paralyzed. If the person was recently paralyzed then they still have walking in muscle memory, and this helps immensely when using the elegs to walk.
Where The Elegs Are Now And Where They Are Going In the Future
As of right now the elegs are still in the closed testing phase. This means that while the technology is functional now, the total cost and difficult of use makes it impractical for the consumer market. Berkeley Bionics has already hinted at the next version of the elegs currently in development. According to Berkeley Bionics, the next generation of the elegs is designed form the ground up for real world use. The example they gave was being able to put on the elegs in the morning and perform tasks like driving and hiking without ever having to re-adjust the exoskelton. Seeing the amazing strides made with current technology, it’s likely that a viable option to allow those paralyzed to walk again will be available for purchase within 10 years.
Bio: Tracy Sitchen is a veteran coupon clipper, stay at home Mom, and aspiring writer. While she loves shopping, she loves the chase of the deal even more! She’s recently been writing about Houston Aquarium coupons along with Old Spaghetti Factory coupons over at her blog where she shares deals and discounts to help every day people save money.