Monday, June 1, 2009

Invention Awards: Robo-Legs

ReWalk: How It Works: The user plants the crutches out front and leans forward. A sensor registers the motion, and the computer instructs motors in the hip and knee of one leg to swing it forward Bland Designs


An exoskeleton that enables paraplegics to walk

Today's featured Invention Award winner: ReWalk, the lightweight, affordable, powered smart exoskeleton.

After breaking his neck in a 1997 fall, Israeli engineer Amit Goffer learned that he would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He soon concluded that this mode of transportation was outdated and began work on the ReWalk, the only wearable exoskeleton that allows paraplegics to stand, amble, and even climb stairs. Soon, more than a dozen patients in the U.S. will strap in and start strolling.

Invention: ReWalk
Inventor: Amit Goffer
Cost: $2 million+
Time: 10 years
Is It Ready Yet? 1 2 3 4 5

Goffer, now 56, needed a design that would be not only safe but also energy-efficient enough to last for an entire day. "I was worried you would need a truckload of batteries," he recalls. To solve that problem, he made a design choice that meant he could never use it. Goffer is paralyzed from the chest down, but he realized that if wearers could use crutches, it would conserve energy and simplify balance, since the device wouldn't have to keep the person upright all on its own.

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