Japan is the world leader in robotics, and has a huge and growing elderly population, so it's no wonder the Japanese are constantly trying out high tech devices to help the old and infirm. The Walking Assist Device from Honda aims to provide power support to the body while walking, squatting, standing up, or climbing stairs. Specifically, it will reduce strain on the hips, knees, and ankles.
The device will support users within two inches of its preset 5-foot, 7-inch user height. The entire system, including its lithium ion battery and shoes, weighs 14.3lbs, and uses two electric motors to assist users' leg movement for up to two hours before a re-charge is required.
This device is designed to be easy to step into; no straps or clamps necessary. Sensors in the shoes adjust the power according to the user's weight and activities. Supposedly, the device can tell what the user is doing and provide just the right amount of power support. Besides a boost for those who find it hard to walk unassisted, Honda believes this gadget will be useful for workers who do a lot of knee-bending, lifting, or walking on the job. The guys in the robotics factory may like it, but this will never fly in the US because it just looks so horribly dorky.
I know, you can't help but think about what is going on in the crotch. I don't know. The Walking Assist Device is just now beginning to be tested in real life situations. It certainly seems more useful than Honda's first walking assist gadget from last spring. And much funnier to watch.