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Robotics Technology

Robotic Suit For Rent In Japan 202

Posted by timothy
from the low-miles-one-owner-died-quick dept.
xTantrum writes with an AP story that begins "A robotic suit that reads brain signals and helps people with mobility problems will be available to rent in Japan for $2,200 a month starting Friday — an invention that may have far-reaching benefits for the disabled and elderly."
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Robotic Suit For Rent In Japan

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  • by ScytheLegion (1274902) on Friday October 10, 2008 @02:48AM (#25324931)
    I, for one, welcome our new $2,200/month Robotic Suit Overlords.
  • fp bitches! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shaitand (626655) on Friday October 10, 2008 @02:48AM (#25324933) Journal

    'an invention that may have far-reaching benefits for the disabled and elderly'

    Not for $2200/month it won't.

    • Re:fp bitches! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Splab (574204) on Friday October 10, 2008 @02:55AM (#25324973)

      Well it wont help in places where elderly are expected to take care of themselves - however in the civilized parts of the world where the government takes care of their elderly and disabled this will have huge benefits for all.

      • Re:fp bitches! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday October 10, 2008 @03:11AM (#25325045) Journal

        Well it wont help in places where elderly are expected to take care of themselves - however in the civilized parts of the world where the government takes care of their elderly and disabled this will have huge benefits for all.

        You let me know what country takes care of their eldery to the tune of $2200 per month, because that's where I want to retire.

        Last I checked, most of those "civilized parts of the world" are either reforming their State pension systems or are planning to.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheLink (130905)
          What they should do is stop discouraging people from having supersize meals and chain smoking. And put heavy taxes on tobacco and fries.

          That'll help take care of the elderly :).
          • how many chain smoking senior citizens are around?

          • by mrops (927562)

            Nope, you are absolutely wrong. Recently, I read a study, can't seem to locate it now.

            It said that those who smoke and eat fries die early, if they are lucky in mid sixties. The other group, the healthy kind that live to 80s and 90s are the real burden on the health system.

            If you look at expenditure on health over a lifetime, the unhealthy kind are cheaper as they get sick die quick. The healthy kind cost more.

            So go grab that Big mac with large fries and a shake.

          • by mrops (927562)

            oops, sorry, I said the same thing you did, didn't read "discouraging". Too early on a Friday morning.

          • Oh I see, they will die young and we wont have to worry about them. And we can use the tax money we get to pay back everyone we owe, including social security...though most wont need it.
        • Re:fp bitches! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Splab (574204) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:42AM (#25325399)

          Well Denmark is spending more than that per month.

          Having such a suit means the elderly can get up and down stairs by themselves, go shopping on their own - that means freeing up workers and giving companies more people to hire, while we are currently feeling a bit of pain due to the financial crisis we still have more job offerings than people to hire.

          • by Shotgun (30919)

            The patient's mobility will still be limited by how much battery reserves they can carry. This might be useful for letting the patient stand up to pull something off a shelf, but won't be useful for an extended shopping trip (barring a very long drop-cord).

            It is a step in the right direction, though.

        • Re:fp bitches! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by compro01 (777531) on Friday October 10, 2008 @05:29AM (#25325617)

          $2200 for now. Remember, this is a first-gen product.

          • ... in 1985? Those were a big boon to old people, too -- have an emergency while out or alone, take out your Brick-sized Rescue Device Which Cost $1,000 and call for assistance. Now a cellphone for old folks costs essentially nothing, weighs essentially nothing, and the #1 problem is that its too hard to use so you see companies making Credit Card Sized Rescue Device With Single Button That Immediately Summons Ambulance To Your Door Which Costs $20.

            Give it a few more years of iterative improvement, someth

            • by TheLink (130905)
              A cellphone is not only hard for some old folks to use, it's also hard to use if you have something like a stroke and can no longer figure out numbers or have lost language ability, or are otherwise severely incapacitated.
            • by Shotgun (30919) on Friday October 10, 2008 @09:22AM (#25326835)

              The problem is that they will be running up against the Laws of Physics. You can make it smaller and lighter all you want, as long as you don't run up against those most enforced of laws.

              Phones and video games just have to produce voltages large enough to represent 1s and possibly 0s. Maybe produce some light. You can get away with using less power if you can make the electronics smaller. A nice feedback loop.

              This robotic system has to actually lift and move things. Things that are not getting smaller. It takes a given amount of power to lift a 170lb person. You can't make the power requirement smaller. To be mobile, something to generate that power has to be carried along. There are several ways of possibly accomplishing this task, but don't count on any major revolutions.

            • I was reading about this kind of brain-sensing technology in Discover magazine. The next step is to replace the cybernetic limbs with stimulators that will activate the user's own muscles, so the whole thing will be essentially invisible on the outside, and a whole lot lighter. It's a way of getting signals out of the brain and into the muscles while bypassing the damaged spinal cord. Maybe a small amount of electrical power would be needed, but it'd be cool if they could tap into or reproduce the body's n

        • That's the beauty of it - with a robotic exoskeleton you won't need to retire! They can put you to use as power cargo loaders [makezine.com]!

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by digitalgiblet (530309)

          You let me know what country takes care of their eldery to the tune of $2200 per month, because that's where I want to retire.

          Last I checked, most of those "civilized parts of the world" are either reforming their State pension systems or are planning to.

          Let me further refine that statement by saying "...what country takes care of their elderly to the tune of $2200 per month FOR ROBOTIC EXOSKELETON SUITS WITH WHICH TO DOMINATE THE YOUNG, ROBOTIC-EXOSKELETON-FREE KIDS ON THEIR LAWNS."

      • by Kjella (173770)

        To the tune of 26,400$ a year it won't here in the "civilized parts" either. Socialized health care has some benefits but it doesn't mean we can take money out of thin air. It will come down to a cost-benefit compared to other services, if more elderly can manage without or with less human assistance then it'll happen but it won't magically come on top of everything we provide today.

        • Re:fp bitches! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by TheJasper (1031512) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:15AM (#25325301)
          I can quite imagine in my parts of the world this being a feasible benefit for the elderly *and* the disabled. This doesn't mean everyone over 65 is all of a sudden going to be outfitted like robocop. It means that if this technology will significantly improve someones standard of living then 26,400 isn't the issue.

          As for magically appearing...nothing ever does. First you have to have the machines. At the same time pretty much you need doctors, therapists and tecnicians trained to work with the machine. Then you have to probably teach people to work with it.
          It's not the money that will be a big problem but the support structure. Even so, I'm sure in 10-20 years you'll be seeing these things or similar ones on the same level as a wheelchair.
          • by Shotgun (30919)

            I can quite imagine in my parts of the world this being a feasible benefit for the elderly *and* the disabled. This doesn't mean everyone over 65 is all of a sudden going to be outfitted like robocop.

            For the record, I live in North Carolina, America.

            Have you not seen the commercials for electric wheelchairs?

            "Come on down. Get your free electric wheelchair. We'll handle getting the money out of the government."

            If the government starts giving them out, they'll have to give them to everyone with a doctor's note. The wheelchair companies know which doctor to send you to. This would be no different.

            You claim that $26,400 is not an issue. That is very close to the median income of a working American. Yo

            • You claim that $26,400 is not an issue. That is very close to the median income of a working American.

              Actually, the median income is almost twice that. Specifically, as of 2007, the median family income was $50,233 [wikipedia.org]. Even in 2004 the median income was $44,334 [census.gov].

              Regardless, 26K/year for a walking assistance device is still a bit of a stretch to give to everyone who wants one.

        • Old people sleep a lot, so they could maybe share one suit between two or three. Hope it's washable!
      • Re:fp bitches! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Friday October 10, 2008 @03:18AM (#25325073)
        in the civilized parts of the world where the government takes care of their elderly

        Government doesn't take care of the elderly, taxpayers do. If you are going to take my money and pass it on to the elderly then at least give credit where it's due.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by smoker2 (750216)
          Yeah, because you would just donate your money every time you see an elderly person in trouble. Same as how you maintain the roads, and defend the country.
          • flamebait? (Score:2, Funny)

            by pimpimpim (811140)
            Modders, please remod the parent to something sensible. It's a perfectly valid argument.
          • by dbrutus (71639)

            Actually there are people who donate more to help people out than they pay in taxes. The bottom half of the income distribution in the US pays almost no taxes. Some of them do, however, give to charities.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          You pay the government to take problems off your hand. Give credit where it's due.

        • by Sockatume (732728)
          Well, the government pays people to look after the elderly with taxpayers' money, to be exact. I imagine that only a very small fraction of taxpayers ever personally help an elderly neighbour with their groceries, or offer to mow their lawn, sadly enough. Although that would work out a lot cheaper for the taxpayer in the end, I suspect.
      • by discord5 (798235)

        the civilized parts of the world where the government takes care of their elderly and disabled this will have huge benefits for all.

        Living in a "civilized" part of the world with social healthcare with a disabled family member, let me reassure you that that the government would laugh at you in the face if you ask them for $2200 a month for this. They will happily provide you with a mint-condition wheelchair until the technology becomes affordable (as in not $2200 a month).

        I think there are a lot more useful applications for healthcare money (eg. help pay for life saving surgery, help pay for medication for the chronically ill, etc) than

      • to people taking care of their parents and grand parents?

        When did it become accepted to just dump them on the corner for other people to pay for?

        Sorry, your statement reeks of political correctness, holier-than-thou, good speak. In other words, total bs.

        The simple fact is that a hundred years ago, if not less in many areas, we took care of our relatives ourselves. Our churches and communities would organize events to do so. I fully expect one of my parents to be living with us after they lose their spous

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Hognoxious (631665)

          When did it become accepted to just dump them on the corner for other people to pay for?

          Probably around the same time that two incomes became necessary to support a family.

          • When did it become accepted to just dump them on the corner for other people to pay for?

            Probably around the same time that two incomes became necessary to support a family.

            Well, that's most certainly an issue but I think it goes back further than that. Up until modern transportation systems were developed, people by and large lived and died not very far from where they were born. You knew ALL your relatives, saw them every day, and you knew you could count on their support to take care of family members who could no longer care for themselves.

            However, once it became easy to simply pick up and move across the country and settle in another state, that basic family cohesiven

      • by drsquare (530038)

        Well it wont help in places where elderly are expected to take care of themselves - however in the civilized parts of the world where the government takes care of their elderly and disabled this will have huge benefits for all.

        What's civilised about taking money off people their entire lives, then giving some of it back later on, if they're considered disabled enough to need it? Imagine if you paid taxes your entire life, then either died before retirement or weren't crippled and couldn't get the robot, you

      • by RMH101 (636144) on Friday October 10, 2008 @08:07AM (#25326265)
        Dude, they've got a robotic suit. I'm picturing armies of elderly gundams. They can take what they want - who's going to stop them?
    • Japan has has socialized health care. the majority of their hospitals and medical institutions are privately owned, but all medical bills are covered by the government. so it won't be a problem for lower income individuals to gain access to this technology in Japan.

      though in the U.S. you'll probably only see the wealthy wearing the $2200/month model, while the middle class will have to settle for the $1500/month one-legged version. but everyone else will have to stick with wheelchairs or walkers with tennis

      • by MaWeiTao (908546)

        Given the problems Japan is facing with socialized healthcare I doubt they're government is going to subsidize the use of this thing. Socialized healthcare is great until someone has to pay for it. That's the problem Japan is facing, not enough people to pay for the growing aging population.

        Such technology would see limited use not because of healthcare but because of cost versus value. I actually think $2200 a month isn't bad at all given the nature of this new technology. If this thing had been been intro

        • what kind of problems are they facing? people getting the health care they need regardless of socioeconomic stratum? no one going bankrupt because of medical bills? health care costing a fraction of what it does in the U.S. while citizens receive better care and health results?

          i think you should do a little more research into the Japanese health system before saying banal platitudes like "socialized healthcare is great until someone has to pay for it."--what is that even supposed to mean? the government has

          • I believe he's referring to Japan's very low birth rate in the past two decades, leading to a disproportionately old population retiring from the workforce comparing to the number of youth entering it, which in turn results in lower than projected revenue and higher than projected spending on social programs for the elderly.
          • I'm 100% for socialised healthcare but I recognise that it has it's problems.

            care for young people and you get a healthier population.
            OAPs however just need more and more care, the more care they get the longer they live the more care they need etc etc.

            France has a fairly calous and cruel,but when it comes down to it, sensible system.
            If the hospitals can't cope(like during a heatwave or disaster) then they simply stop treating people over a certain age. Depending on how bad the situation is the age lowers o

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Hognoxious (631665)

            "socialized healthcare is great until someone has to pay for it."--what is that even supposed to mean?

            It means that while a more equitable distribution of certain resources is a desirable situation, it doesn't solve the problem of providing the aforementioned resources.

          • by MaWeiTao (908546)

            I realize my comments probably violate your faith in socialized healthcare but I think my statement was quite clear.

            The elderly population is increasing while birthrate continues to fall. This means that while the number of people dependent on healthcare keeps growing the number of people contributing to the system, via taxes continues to shrink. Simply put, there's too much money coming out of the system and not enough going in.

            And that isn't the only problem. The system is also over-burdened. It's much li

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Exactly. I love how the makers of this crap try to say it's for the elderly and disabled.

      they tout the "we're working for humanity" line when they in reality are simply making something that rich geeks will buy/rent at insane prices.

      anyone know any decrepit elderly that have a huge disposable income that wants to become Mecca-Shiva?

    • I'm guessing you haven't had much contact with patient care technology. $2200/month is almost bargain price considering the potential benefits.
      A simple voice synthesizer to fit on their wheelchair might set you back $3000. If you go for gadgets that might for example allow you to take a wheelchair down the stairs, expect to pay as much as you would for a small car.

  • by Kjella (173770) on Friday October 10, 2008 @02:48AM (#25324937) Homepage

    Cyberdyne, a new company in Tsukuba outside Tokyo, will mass-produce HAL.

    Cyberdyne [wikipedia.org]? Will produce HAL [wikipedia.org]? Outlook not so good.

  • and _their_ "mobility problems"?
  • Cyberdyne? (Score:4, Funny)

    by ameline (771895) <ian...ameline@@@gmail...com> on Friday October 10, 2008 @02:57AM (#25324979) Homepage Journal

    Anyone remember what happened the last time we let Cyberdyne make anything remotely robotic? :-)

  • by dexmachina (1341273) on Friday October 10, 2008 @02:58AM (#25324989)
    "Why's this damn thing taking me to the ledge. Stop! Hey! Stop it!" "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that..."
  • Sounds cool (Score:4, Funny)

    by oodaloop (1229816) on Friday October 10, 2008 @03:03AM (#25325013)
    What weapon systems come with it? I didn't see any listed, but I'd have to assume it at least has flamethrowers or some sort of rockets.
    • by Lumpy (12016)

      two shoulder mounted plasma guns, a rocket pod on the left shoulder, 50cal machine guns in the right wrist.

      problem is there are no JATOL rockets in the back for flying over buildings.

      I just want one to cover in green latex and run around town screaming "HULK SMASH! small blonde in bug SUV driving like idiot anger hulk!"

  • by acehole (174372)

    I think the article missed the feature where the wearer powers up, screaming while an animated background appears.

    • by hey! (33014)

      Yes, but what I think is interesting is that the country that brought you the fantasy ... is bringing you the reality as an encore.

      Japan is, famously, a conformist society, yet somehow creativity seems to burst out in wild flights of technological fantasy.

  • Lies (Score:4, Informative)

    by Onaga (1369777) on Friday October 10, 2008 @03:31AM (#25325159)

    It isn't really reading brain signals. From the own company's website, they say the system detects signals on the surface of the skin (of what is intended to be moved). That is why they demonstrate it with partially paralyzed people. If the spinal column cannot relay any signal at all to the legs, then the system cannot work.

  • So can these things be hacked, say to increase the response speed by a factor of 10? It would either kill your granny in the most hilarious way or else it would make her into a superhero. Either way a great video on youtube.
  • Bad memories of Exo Man are flooding into my brain...
  • by GrpA (691294) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:12AM (#25325295)

    I hear that the first beta testers are annoyed that to bootstrap the suit, they have to stand in a spread-eagle configuration and yell out "Power Extreme!"

    GrpA

  • by apodyopsis (1048476) on Friday October 10, 2008 @04:55AM (#25325459)
    "Stop them Gromit! They're the wrong trousers and they've gone all wrong!"

    My favorite mechanical trouser mayhem.

    From one of my favorite short films ever!

    Though I have no idea how well known it is out of the UK.

    Now if only I could find my copy of 'Electronics for Dogs'.
  • by initialE (758110) on Friday October 10, 2008 @05:01AM (#25325477)

    Roujin Z
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roujin_Z [wikipedia.org]

    Fear.

  • ..until I have a lightweight, flexible, ultra-thin suit capable of delivering awesomeness, babe-magnetic badassery and courage enough to socialize, like this [funnystuffblog.com], I'm simply not interested.
  • I'm surprised that nobody has yet mentioned Roujin Z [wikipedia.org]. Written by the same guy from Akira fame, its basically a very advanced hospital bed run amok.

    Hint: The internal logic is really a weapons platform!

    I, for one, welcome our new robotic geriatric overlords!

  • Elderly 209 (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zaphod-AVA (471116) on Friday October 10, 2008 @08:31AM (#25326397)

    [ED 209] You have twenty seconds to get off my lawn. [/ED 209]

  • I want to be japanese when I grow up!

  • Oh wow! David Byrne is going to love this!

  • DEAR GOD NO (Score:5, Insightful)

    by loafula (1080631) on Friday October 10, 2008 @09:17AM (#25326789)
    Anyone who has ever seen the elderly try to drive a car already knows this is a HORRIBLE idea.
  • Robotic Suit For Rent In Japan Why did I first read this as referring to a legal case? Possibly involving a Japanese landlord taking a robot tenant to court over unpaid rent.
  • It's a short calendar until I am eligible for AARP membership, then I will get one of these suits, and you young farts will be forced to fund Social Security! BWA HAHAHA HAHAH!
  • They're calling it the Dragoon

  • A robotic suit that reads brain signals and helps (nerds) with (self defense) problems.

    This suit is now the ultimate power in the universe!

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