Lower-body exoskeleton gets FDA approval for medical rehab
From IEEE Spectrum:
Cyberdyne, the Japanese robotics company with the slightly suspicious name, has just gotten approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin offering its HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) lower-body exoskeleton to users in the United States through licensed medical facilities.
HAL is essentially a walking robot that you strap to your own legs — sensors attached to your leg muscles detect bioelectric signals sent from your brain to your muscles telling them to move, and then the exoskeleton powers up and assists, enhancing your strength and stability.
The version of HAL that the FDA has approved is called HAL for Medical Use, and it’s designed to help people with lower limb disabilities get better at walking on their own. There are other exoskeletons that help rehabilitate people through physical walking motions, but HAL is unique in the way that it relies on a mixture of voluntary control and autonomous control, using the wearer’s own nervous system to signal the robot when and how to move.
Startup says they can back up your mind…but there’s a catch.
From MIT Technology Review:
The startup accelerator Y Combinator is known for supporting audacious companies in its popular three-month boot camp. There’s never been anything quite like Nectome though.
Nectome’s co-founder, Robert McIntyre, describes his technology for exquisitely preserving brains in microscopic detail using a high-tech embalming process. Then the MIT graduate will make his business pitch. As it says on his website: “What if we told you we could back up your mind?”
So yeah. Nectome is a preserve-your-brain-and-upload-it company. Its chemical solution can keep a body intact for hundreds of years, maybe thousands, as a statue of frozen glass. The idea is that someday in the future scientists will scan your bricked brain and turn it into a computer simulation. That way, someone a lot like you, though not exactly you, will smell the flowers again in a data server somewhere.
This story has a grisly twist, though. For Nectome’s procedure to work, it’s essential that the brain be fresh.
Stretchable skin for robots helps them gain sense of touch
Robots show a lot of promise as first responders, but they can’t effectively dismantle bombs or perform delicate first aid procedures if they can’t feel what they’re touching. To remedy that problem, a team of engineers from the University of Washington and UCLA have developed stretchable skin that can cover any part of a robot.
The skin can give a machine the power to sense vibrations and shear force, or the unaligned forces that push one part of the body in one direction and another part in the opposite.
Ever slid your finger across a flat surface? You’ll notice that a part of your flesh under the nail bulges out in the opposite direction of where you’re sliding to, while the other side gets pulled taut. That’s sheer force at work — and that’s one of the things the artificial skin can mimic.