The battery-powered robot suit was launched at a new technology shop in a science park outside Cambridge in June and will be made commercially available in Britain.
“Technology is reaching the point where those who have been disabled can be re-enabled,” the Guardian quoted Andy Hayes, Ekso Bionics’s managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as saying.
The Ekso is priced at 100,000 pounds but the company hopes to lower to 50,000 pounds within the next two years. The company thinks that the exoskeleton not only helps disabled people but also enhances the abilities of humans.
The firm’s CEO, Eythor Bender, has said he believes exoskeletons are “the jeans of the future,” offering assistance with manual labour.
“Shipyard workers could probably only hold a 10kg angle-grinder for a couple of minutes. Whereas if they had a bionic suit, they could work for hours and reduce costs,” said Bender.
Theoretically, Ekso’s suits have many uses but in practice, their applications are more limited.
In a trail, a patient who suffered a spinal cord injury is delighted to be able to rise from her chair and walk. However, two of Ekso’s staff have to guide her movements.
Ekso doesn’t claim to offer a simple fix for paralysis. Yet it does believe that regular exercise in the suit could help in other ways, such as increasing bone density, improving bladder functions, and aiding weight loss.