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Medicine United Kingdom

UK Paraplegic Woman First To Take Robotic Suit Home 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-we-call-it-a-mech dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It might be a ways off, but every day we get closer to the possibility of William Gibson's short story The Winter Market becoming a plausible reality. Viable consumer exoskeleton for the paralyzed? Check, finally. Quoting Reuters: 'The exoskeleton is activated by the wearer tilting their balance to indicate the desire to take a step. It supports the body's weight and also allows the person to go up or down stairs, as well as sit or stand up independently. It costs 45,000 pounds and although clinical studies are ongoing that could back a case for health authorities to fund purchases of the device, the developers argue that savings on the treatment of ailments related to inactivity could offset the cost.'"
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UK Paraplegic Woman First To Take Robotic Suit Home

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I want a powerful exoskeleton that will let me rob a bank ... burst right through the wall, tear open the safe, and walk away with as much as I can carry while the guard's bullet ping harmlessly off my exoskeleton.
    • I want a power exoskeleton to fight of Xenomorphs.

      Or at least a power loader.

    • by Githaron (2462596) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @03:37PM (#41226527)
      If something like that became easily accessible to the average person, the guards would probably have similar suits.
      • The way most science fiction and cape-comics writers get around this is by trying to claim the suits are one-offs from individual super geniuses a la Iron Man [wikia.com], Steel [wikia.com] and even Batman [wikia.com] at times.

        Of course, this has absolutely no bearing in reality. It's really not going to happen that "just this one person in the world can makes this". I don't know if it would be awesome or terrifying if such and individual arose, but the idea is so silly that, as you said, it's not likely to ever leave the realm of fiction.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          But what about Tesla? He invented free universal wireless energy distribution that nobody's ever been able to duplicate! Clearly if he'd been a mechanical engineer instead of an electrical engineer, he'd have invented an awesome steampunkmechasuit that we still wouldn't be able to duplicate!

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            But what about Tesla? He invented free universal wireless energy distribution that nobody's ever been able to duplicate!

            Probably for the same reason that no one's ever been able to duplicate perpetual motion, time travel or cold fusion devices.

            • by Agent0013 (828350)

              But what about Tesla? He invented free universal wireless energy distribution that nobody's ever been able to duplicate!

              Probably for the same reason that no one's ever been able to duplicate perpetual motion, time travel or cold fusion devices.

              And nobody has been able to figure out how the machine made sheets of chain mail that existed back in the medieval ages. We have records describing how a spool of wire was fed into a machine and when cranked it would link the rings into a sheet that just need to be stitched into a shirt. Today we have to create them by hand link by link.

              Tesla also had a machine that made ball lightning. Spectators would watch the ball lightning come out of the machine and float around the room. We don't know how this machin

      • Apparently there's only one guard and he only has one bullet. So if he doesn't choose his time well the robber's pretty much in the clear.

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      The woman took 17 days to finish the London Marathon. I don't think it's quite ready for prime time superhero/evil criminal mastermind use yet.
  • by 0racle (667029) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @03:10PM (#41226233)
    You're coming with me.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Maybe his celebrity allowed him more sway with the NHS, but Stephen Hawking already got [theonion.com] one of these over a decade ago.
  • by Russ1642 (1087959) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @03:14PM (#41226281)
    Won't be long before lazy fat people are using these just because they don't feel like using their own muscles to move their limbs. Happened with the mobility scooters, it'll happen with these suits.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @03:23PM (#41226379)

      It wouldn't last. They must tilt and move a bit in order to move the exoskeleton. Too much effort. They would use the skeleton to sit on the mobility scooter and drive around.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by fm6 (162816)

      What arrogant crap. All the people I've seen using mobility scooters actually had physical problems that made assistance necessary. OK, a lot of them should have taken better care of themselves when they were younger, but so what? I doubt that anybody on Slashdot is a paragon of healthy eating and frequent exercise.

      • by fm6 (162816)

        I don't usually care about getting modded down. But there's something extremely sad about getting multiple Flamebait mods for pointing out that somebody's an ignorant bigot.

        • by fm6 (162816)

          OK, who wasted a mod point on this post, when the could have modded up the post I was talking about?

      • I doubt that anybody on Slashdot is a paragon of healthy eating and frequent exercise.

        Doubt away, but you're wrong :)

      • I taught a spin class at lunch today, so I'm getting a YOU CAN DO IT! PUSH YOUR LIMITS! out of your replies.

        • by fm6 (162816)

          I simply do not get stationary bikes. Has to be the most boring exercise possible.

          • Sure, if you sit down at the stationary bike and ride it for 30 minutes, it's kind of boring.

            If you get into a spin / freewheeling class, the right instructor can make it a lot more fun and it's a better experience in a group.

            Sure, you're still riding a stationary bike, but it's not the same as going for a bike ride. Same muscle groups, but you're at a hilariously high pace. It has made my daily bike ride quite a bit easier.

            • I wonder why nobody's ever made a videogame addon for those things to make them more fun. All it would take is a tach and a couple buttons for steering to plug into an old laptop or something.

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            I simply do not get stationary bikes. Has to be the most boring exercise possible.

            No, that's swimming. At least on a stationary bike you can check out the hot babes/hunks around you. In a swimming pool it's just a blue blur, until you hit your head on the wall at each turn.

            • by GNious (953874)

              Listen to some music, look up at babes around you, afterwards go to sauna with said babes ... Swimming is kinda nice.

      • "All the people you've seen"? Wow, that must constitute almost everyone on the whole planetedy planet!!1!
        • by fm6 (162816)

          And exactly how many people have you seen who were riding scooters, but obviously didn't need them?

      • by tehcyder (746570)
        Why in the name of Saint Fuck of What The is this being modded as flamebait?
    • by mapkinase (958129)

      >Won't be long before lazy fat people are using these just because they don't feel like using their own muscles to move their limbs.

      As one of those, I testify that it cannot happen soon enough.

    • by bitt3n (941736) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @04:34PM (#41227185)

      Won't be long before lazy fat people are using these just because they don't feel like using their own muscles to move their limbs. Happened with the mobility scooters, it'll happen with these suits.

      step one: get them addicted to motor control suit. step two: distribute virus to suits that locks in wearer and prevents him from eating anything but celery.

      • by Abreu (173023)

        I find your ideas intriguing and would like to subscribe to your newsletter...

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Won't be long before lazy fat people are using these just because they don't feel like using their own muscles to move their limbs

      I feel sorry for fat people. It's not laziness, how would you like to have to lift 350 pounds just to get off off the couch? Plus, they usually get problems with their joints wearing out from carrying all that weight.

      Obesity is a health problem, and laughing at someone's health problems, whether it be morbid obesity, insanity, or cancer, is the mark of a heartless jerk.

      I'm just d

      • how would you like to have to lift 350 pounds just to get off off the couch?

        It's a fact of physics that ceteris paribus it takes 1% more energy to lift 1% more weight.

        Thus it would imply that at a certain point it would balance out and taper towards an asymptote.

        For me, the limit is around 17-and-a-half of our Limey stone. That's nearly 250 of your colonial pounds, over 110 eurocommie kilos. This was at a point where I was eating something with meat in it and some kind of fried potatoes twice a day, plus

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Always been stocky. Now I'm a bit below 200 pounds, close to what I was at 14 - and I certainly wasn't fat back then.

          That's the thing -- people have different metabolisms. The only time I ever gained weight was when I was on Paxil for a couple of years and gained 40 pounds. The stuff really lowered my metabolism and increased my appetite, and I was doing a lot of waling then, much more than before or after. I'm not so sure that obesity is the fat person's fault. Someone else could be cursed in the opposite

      • Won't be long before lazy fat people are using these just because they don't feel like using their own muscles to move their limbs

        I feel sorry for fat people. It's not laziness, how would you like to have to lift 350 pounds just to get off off the couch? Plus, they usually get problems with their joints wearing out from carrying all that weight.

        Obesity is a health problem, and laughing at someone's health problems, whether it be morbid obesity, insanity, or cancer, is the mark of a heartless jerk.

        I'm just damned glad I'm skinny. I can't gain weight if I try.

        People generally don't laugh at people who have health problems that stuck them in a mobility scooter.

        However, when you see someone grabbing a 5 gallon tub to put in the basket you might stop thinking that it's not their fault. For many who are overweight, walking is the gateway exercise and they've stopped doing that.

      • by lxs (131946)

        How would you like to have to lift 350 pounds just to get off off the couch?

        I wouldn't. That's why I exercise my willpower to combat my primal urges.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        I'm just damned glad I'm skinny. I can't gain weight if I try

        I bet if you stayed in bed for a couple of months eating nothing but steaks and buckets of pasta and drinking a couple of gallons of beer a day you would.

        You're just not trying hard enough.

    • Skynet will never need to launch the missiles.

      Those scooters are a bloody nuisance (and in the UK are apparently totally above the law [bbc.co.uk]) but if you can see them coming & can get up a kerb you're safe.... for now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "One of the best experiences was standing at a bar," she said. "To be stood up in this means everything to me."

    Who knew being stood up at a bar could be so gratifying? If only I had known this the last 5 times I've been stood up...

    • by udachny (2454394)

      Yeah, but you don't have a robotic suit to crash whoever stood you up. She, on the other hand, does.

  • It's been a long time since I read "Winter Market" but from what I remember it's about uploading consciousness, not cyborg augmentation for the paralyzed. John Varley's "Blue Champagne" seems to be much more relevant.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That is indeed what the story is about, but that's why I note this as step one. I am the AC who submitted the article by the way. Leis the protagonist of the story is indeed fully paralyzed and uses an exoskeleton for mobility 24/7, which is the source of much of the conflict in Gibson's tale. It's a plot device in a way that humanizes what (at the time) was a very far flung idea. The story does indeed culminate in the uploading of consciousness.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why does it weigh so much?

    • What a divvy.

    • by Githaron (2462596)
      I hope you are joking.
      • I wonder if the GP's just having a go (poorly) at the writer for using "45,000 pounds," which you never really see in written British English. We have this nifty little £ symbol for such occasions.
        • Random off-topic trivia: £ on a standard British keyboard layout is reached by shift+3 - all the more confusing when referring to the pound sign with someone using an American keyboard layout as the convention is to call the # symbol a pound sign and it too is shift+3.
      • by tehcyder (746570)

        I hope you are joking.

        I hope you are joking that you weren't sure he was joking.

    • Battery pack.

  • by jfengel (409917) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @03:49PM (#41226661) Homepage Journal

    For anybody who wants to see what the thing looks like, there were numerous pictures from when she "ran" the London Marathon.

    http://www.metro.co.uk/news/898507-paralysed-claire-lomas-completes-london-marathon-in-bionic-suit [metro.co.uk]

    (Not exactly running, since it took 17 days, but it's still a hell of a feat. One that deserves a few freaking pictures.)

    • by AAWood (918613)
      She also has a youtube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/clairelom [youtube.com]) with some videos of in in motion. One of these says it's blocked by a TV channel that own the copyright, hmm....
    • Not wishing to denigrate her or her achievement in any way, but I'm sure most people reading that article had a question spring to mind, and that question involved weeing.

      • by jfengel (409917)

        I assume she didn't run continuously. She ran a few miles a day, then rested. I assume she peed then.

        I can tell you as a marathon runner, though, that a lot of runners who don't want to wait for the porta johns just drop trou and let fly. Many men, and a surprising number of women.

        Most of them stop running first, though a few at the front don't care what they smell like and they'll be done in a couple of hours anyway. They'll take a shower and change after they get the prize money. But that's a few people u

  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @03:59PM (#41226779)

    And they've gone wrong!

  • I thought I'd take a gamble on this one, and actually read TFA - even before reading the comments. I thought there would be a nice picture or two, maybe a few links to pages about the device itself. But you know what I got instead?

    France.

    No pictures, no related links at the end, and only one word in the entire article itself turned into a link - the word "France."

    Tooltip? "Full coverage of France."

    FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

  • The comedy when some future model suddenly goes into the fucking mode in public. Anyway - great stuff!

  • It might be a ways off

    Forsooth brother, art thou an Amish?

  • Quoting Reuters: 'The exoskeleton is activated by the wearer tilting their balance to indicate the desire to take a step.

    So if you stand atop a cliff and look down, the thing takes a step forward?
    Nice.

    Didn't the owner of Segway die exactly this way?

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Quoting Reuters: 'The exoskeleton is activated by the wearer tilting their balance to indicate the desire to take a step.

      So if you stand atop a cliff and look down, the thing takes a step forward? Nice.

      Didn't the owner of Segway die exactly this way?

      There is a very simple way of getting round that potentially fatal flaw: just don't stand right on the edge of a fucking cliff.

  • Why can't we see the exoskeleton in question?

  • This man was the first in the world to take home his own robotic exoskeleton (as far as I am aware) :
    http://www.engadget.com/2011/05/02/new-zealand-paralympian-buys-first-rex-bionics-exoskeleton-take

    And this man was the second :
    http://www.londoncommunitynews.com/2012/04/meet-robobrogan-londons-bionic-man/

One man's "magic" is another man's engineering. "Supernatural" is a null word. -- Robert Heinlein

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