Octopus Tangle

“I’ve fallen down and I can’t get up!”   Echo of the past?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Falls lead to bruising or broken bones. Healing can be long and hard. It’s a slippery slope! (Sorry!) Can falls be prevented?

Enter Vito Monaco and Silvestro Micera at Scuola Superiore in Italy. They designed: the exoskeleton—a robotic skeleton you wear over your clothes. They programmed the robot with an algorithm. It predicts the oscillating angle of your hips as you walk. Then it compares the prediction to your actual hip angle.

Once your gait deviates from the robot’s prediction--ACTION! Within half a second the exoskeleton nudges your hips back into place. Crisis averted!

The researchers compared the subject’s balance with and without the skeleton’s guidance. Also, to when they weren’t wearing the skeleton. And?!

Amputees and the elderly recovered from slipping BETTER with the robot’s assistance. And the device itself didn’t interfere with the subjects’ balance and motion. These people will be able to safely get out and about!

Skeletons in your closet: bad news.  Exoskeletons?  Good!

Listen now.