Wearable Tech World Feature Article
July 01, 2014

Robot Exoskeletons Helping Paraplegics Walk

The wearable tech market is one that is growing leaps and bounds. For the most part, the market is made up of devices such as fitness trackers and smartwatches. One piece of wearable tech that could go a long ways towards changing people’s lives is a new wearable robot that could actually replace wheelchairs. The ReWalk exoskeleton is a wearable robot designed to help paraplegics walk. This particular device has been approved by the FDA for home use and that in and of itself is a big move considering it had previously only been approved for rehabilitation centers.

Wearable tech, especially fitness trackers are getting so popular that even the largest online retailer in the world, Amazon, has launched its own storefront for the department. Robots who can actually aid people in walking, especially those who could not walk before is going to make “wearable tech” a huge market in the very near future.

“This revolutionary product will have an immediate, life-changing impact on individuals with spinal cord injuries,” Larry Jasinski, CEO of ReWalk Robotics said in a recent statement. “This is truly the beginning of ‘ReWalking’ as a daily reality in the U.S.”

The ReWalk uses a computer based control system and has motorized sensors and a brace support to mimic walking. The system responds to side-to-side shifts in the user’s weight. The one difference in this device and other wearable tech is that it isn’t made to be all that affordable to everyone. The ReWalk is selling for $69,500 per unit and the insurance companies may not cover the cost.

While the gadget is a giant leap forward in the tech world, experts are saying that paraplegics shouldn’t be leaving their wheelchairs just yet. Among the drawbacks, these exoskeleton batteries last between two and three hours. The devices don’t move quickly either, the farthest researchers have seen someone go in an exoskeleton is a mile, and that took almost an hour. Still, this kind of tech is going to be getting more popular as advances in the field continue, pretty soon the tech is going to match the science fiction world when it comes to helping those who can’t walk move about freely.

Want to learn more about the latest in wearable technology? Be sure to attend Wearable Tech Expo, July 23 & 24 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City.  Stay in touch with everything happening at the event -- follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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