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Experiencing technical difficulties since 1999
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So, companies all over the world, but Japan especially, keep trying to make better and better suits to help with mobility. That is, suits that follow your body movements and add power to them as you wear them to give you greater mobility. This is for the elderly, semi-paralyzed people, etc.
the biggest challenges in making such a suit is getting a power source small and light enough but with enough power and energy stored to be feasible to fit into the suit.
I say circumvent the problem altogether. Just have a power source on a little cart that the user drags along behind him. With wheels, you could easily pull around 200-400 lbs, enough room/weight for a gas-powered generator, batteries, gas powered air-compressor (for pneumatics) etc. People walk around draggin luggage or backpacks or whatever all the time, this would be no different. And it wouldn't reduce your mobility any more than being wheelchair-bound, in a world where we frequently make wheelchair-accessible.
Hell, the power unit could even have a little computer so it could sense your walking direction and obstacles and whatever and help drive itself along with you.
A gas-powered genny would obviously be an issue if you want to do indoor shopping, but the unit could have a short-term battery power unit to allow power for shopping. Or it could just be batteries or compressed air for indoor/outdoor use, and you refill/recharge at home.
Not to mention that the whole system would be cheaper than all the advanced electronics stuff they're doing with robotics teams.
It seems like an obvious idea. And it really seems feasible and like it would be helpful. Why hasn't anyone thought of this yet? Focusing on making only a suit is a fool's errand given current technology's limitations if you want said suit to be widely affordable.
I found one
[DIYMatt, Nov 02 2011]
[mouseposture, Nov 03 2011]
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||use of your arms, taller reach, and... morale? You'll feel better if you feel more normal and capable and you can actually walk. This is a huge deal; not FEELING handicapped.
||And the first two make a huge difference and you know it - you can do way more stuff if you can walk normally.
||Furthermore perhaps the wheels on the cart could be those 3-wheel thingies that turn so it can go up stairs.
||I picture this like a small rolling suitcase. It could provide a day's worth of power, and if you needed to go up stairs you could just pick it up and carry it.
||//use of your arms, taller reach, and... morale?//
There are situations where mobility isn't enough:
you need upright posture.
|| I recall, for
example, a wheelchair-bound physician whose
wheelchair had a special fixture to hoist him into
a standing position. Because, to do a proper,
classical physical exam of a patient lying in a
hospital bed you have to stand at the bedside.
||Betcha some people also bought that attachment
so that, in social interactions, people weren't
looking down at them. Other examples left as an
exercise to the reader.
||This has been done in SCI-FI. One version was an extra pair of legs that walked along just behind the person, and carried the life-support, power supply etc. It was joined to the human's suit at the base of the spine, and tapped into the spinal chord for control.
||//you need upright posture.//
||I agree - the defining feature of wheelchair users
(as perceived by others) is not so much that they
can't walk, but that they're low down; it shades all
social interactions where others are standing.
||I wonder why Segway-like vehicles (with a sort of
harness-come-perching stool to support an upright
user) haven't been developed as an alternative to
||Well *some* people who need a wheelchair also
haven't got the balance or truncal agility to use a
Segway. In fact, some people with completely
normal leg strength use wheelchairs because of
pure balance deficits.
||So that rules out some potential users. Another
factor is transfers. The thing not only has to keep
you in an upright position, it also has to let you
transfer from that position to a seated position,
so you can toilet. A Segway harness would have to
accomodate that, and you'll have to deal with the
fact that you can't support weight by grabbing the
Segway with your hand(s) during the transfer.
||It'd be fun, and, probably possible, to solve the
technical problems, and produce a Segway
mobility assistive device. But the deal-breaker
would be difficulty getting third party payers to
pay for the
||Point taken, but I see no reason why a Segwayesque
device couldn't be controlled by a joystick rather
than by balance-shifting, in which case the balance
issue isn't a problem.
||Also, I'm afraid I have to put two black marks against
your name for (a) using the word "toilet" and (b)
||I didn't verb it. It was already verbed <link>.