2011

Wearable, Artificially Intelligent, Bionic Device

A battery-powered exoskeleton helps paraplegics stand and walk in a straight line, using a gesture-based human-machine interface.

eLEGS is a wearable, artificially intelligent, bionic device that enables people with paralysis to stand up and walk again. The exoskeleton is battery-powered and rechargeable, fitting comfortably and securely over clothing.

altCurrent prototypes of eLEGS enable users to walk in a straight line, stand from a sitting position, stand for an extended period of time, and sit down from a standing position. When the device debuts at rehabilitation centers, users will be able to make tight and wide turns, and take steps on their own without help.

eLEGS provides a high degree of knee flexion, to ensure a more natural human gait and better equip it to handle mixed terrains. It is also relatively quiet while in operation. Walking speeds depend on each patient’s aptitude and condition, but speeds in excess of 2 mph can be attained, and speeds can be varied. The device is battery-powered and employs a gesture-based human-machine interface which — utilizing sensors — observes the gestures the user makes to determine his or her intentions and then acts accordingly. A real-time computer draws on sensors and input devices to orchestrate every aspect of a single stride.

eLEGS weighs only 45 pounds, making it easy to move around and transport. With its narrow waist and snug fit, it can maneuver easily through doors and corridors, and most ordinary chairs are accessible. No special armrests will be required to assist the user in standing up or sitting down.

Initially, the device will be offered to rehabilitation centers for use under medical supervision, and can be adjusted to fit most people between 5'2" and 6'4" and weighing 220 lbs or less, in a matter of minutes. Users must be able to self-transfer from their wheelchair. Simple Velcro straps, backpack-style clips, and shoulder straps secure eLEGS to the user, over their clothing and shoes, and with a little practice, users can put eLEGS on and take it off in a minute or two.

Clinical trials are scheduled to commence at select rehabilitation clinics in the United States. A limited release of eLEGS is scheduled during the second half of 2011 at several rehabilitation facilities around the country. At that time, eligible patients will have the opportunity to enroll in a medically supervised eLEGS gait training program, working with their physical therapist. Therapists will undergo training in order to become eLEGS-certified prior to assisting patients.

This technology was done by Berkeley Bionics, Berkeley, CA. For more information, visit http://info.hotims.com/34455-196.