Our favorite exoskeleton of the lot, simply because it looks so cool, is HAL. The Hybrid Assist Limb hails, yet again, from Japan.
And if you think its name rings some sci-fi cinema bells, wait till we tell you the name of the company that makes it. They are called Cyberdyne Inc. You'll also remember Cyberdyne as the fictional corporation in the Terminator universe - the company that invented Skynet and hailed the end of human dominion on Earth. Um, maybe they shouldn't be messing around with robotics after all...
Invented by a Japanese super otaku professor, the HAL is a powered exoskeleton suit that augments the strength of its user, without compromising much on agility and dexterity. It works by sensing faint bioelectric signals on your skin and using that information to move the motors accordingly. The HAL-5 weighs only 10kg, and the battery and control computer go on a waist strap.
Good guy Cyberdyne
Why haven't we seen much of the HAL around? That's because Cyberdyne has rejected offers to sell their technology to foreign companies - many of whom are weapons manufacturers. The HAL suits are only for institutional use, and are used primarily to aid the disabled and elderly in their day to day activities.
HAL suits were also specially redesigned to be used for part of the cleanup operation at Fukushima in 2011. Now the bulk of the rental units are being used in hospitals and medical facilities for treatment and rehabilitation. Scientific studies also showed that disabled children benefitted from using the HAL to stimulate cognitive activities, helping them to play while walking.
Isn't it great to read about technology that's not being used to start wars or flll the coffers of MNCs? If only more crazy geeks would go out and invent something., we'd probably have hoverboards by now.