This smart exoskeleton will keep you on your feet

IDG News Service | May 15, 2017

The exoskeleton can detect when the wearer's gait changes, and, using a set of motors, can help the person regain their footing.

Track 1: This smart exoskeleton can tell when you’re losing your balance and stop you from falling.

Track 2: The prototype is wearable from the waist down and is designed to help the elderly by preventing fall-related injuries. This is different from most other machine wearables, which are used to enhance regular movement rather than prevent an unexpected event.

Track 3: The exoskeleton can be set up with a few adjustments to nuts and bolts to fit the carbon-fiber braces over the wearer's body. The entire process takes just a few minutes.

Track 4: But before the exoskeleton can do its job, it needs to learn the wearer's normal walking patterns. Once the system memorizes those, an algorithm can detect deviations from the user’s normal gait and start working.

Track 5: As soon as the exoskeleton notices that something is wrong, motors at the wearer’s hips push both thighs down, restoring stability and preventing a fall.

VO 1: Nicola Vitiello - SSSA Professor, Italy
“The novelty of this experiment is that for the first time, a human and an exoskeleton act together in real time, and the exoskeleton gives support to mitigate the risk of fall.”

Track 6: Researchers say one challenge in developing the prototype was making sure it wouldn't be intrusive, especially when the user was not falling.

Track 7: Further research will focus on making the exoskeleton more discreet and portable for use in daily life.

Track 8: The idea is that one day, the exoskeleton could also be used to aid the physically impaired and people with neurological disorders.