Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wearable robotic

Today at the h2.0 event -new minds, new bodies, new identities- Hugh Herr, director of the bio mechatronics group, presented his latest research. I am impressed by his work and fascinated by his own prostheses. He presented the number of persons who could benefit from wearable robotic and wearable attached to the body. From veterans who have parts of their body amputated, to anyone who could be robotically augmented. For instance, with wearable robotic, anyone could wear 100kg in a bag pack and not feel the load because it would be transmitted to the robot.

In Hugh Herr’s research, living muscle tissues are stimulated electrically to get the desired motion response. He presented the motion by mechanics in prostheses developed by the mechatronics group at the MIT media laboratory. The Rheo knee prosthesis allows to reduce the energy consumed in walking, allows to walk downstairs, upstairs, faster and slower. The person who wears the prostheses is controlling the lift. This research is based on nature, on how nature functions and steals from nature for its design.

Hugh Herr’s goal for the next years is to build the first hybrid body or limb by attaching robotic limb to the skeleton, load being transferred to the tissue. One of the main challenges is for the body to create its own seal. The group will develop the next generation of legs, and neurocontrol strategies for a direct control on these prostheses. Hugh Herr mentioned that his group developed the most powerful ankle in the world.

For the Human 2.0 event, John Maeda composed of 24 scribbled personas. I still have not chosen the one I am ...

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