Products like the Human Assistive Limb exoskeleton have a frustrating tendency to remain in the labs and universities that spawned them, usually for reasons of impracticality or cost. But this one is going mainstream.
This is great news for HAL's target market: Its ability to grant its wearer tenfold strength increases during specific actions could change the lives of people with degenerative muscle diseases, or accident victims who would otherwise need long, difficult rehabilitative therapy to regain basic mobility. And with a five-hour battery life, it could be quite practical for day to day use.
It's also great news for extreme hobbyists, certain factory workers and the children of the rich, who can enjoy near-full robotization for about $US4200 when these things start rolling off the line. The first run, to be sold in Japan, is planned at 400 units, so unless you can make the case that your RoboCop fantasies are more important than giving a dystrophic Japanese child his legs back, you might still have a while to wait. [HPlus Magazine via Slashdot]