Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Japan, the Empire of Mutants!

I witnessed the Japanese robotics R&D constant research in Japan for the last ten years, and recently, I was in Tsukuba to see the little ancestor of H.A.L. Well reality is up here now as a robotic suit that reads brain signals and helps people with mobility problems will be available to rent in Japan for € 1600, in a month time. Now isn't it a prodigious civilian invention? *

An invention that may have far-reaching benefits for the disabled and elderly. HAL - short for "hybrid assistive limb" - is a computerized suit with sensors that read brain signals directing limb movement through the skin.

The 22 pound (10 kilogram) battery-operated computer system is belted to the waist. It captures the brain signals and relays them to mechanical leg braces strapped to the thighs and knees, which then provide robotic assistance to people as they walk. Japan, the Empire of Mutants as I had written a few years ago in the French press magazine.

* Two Japanese particle physicists were awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for discovering the origin of the broken symmetry that predicts the existence of at least three families of quarks in nature. They shared the prize with an American who discovered the mechanism of spontaneous broken symmetry in subatomic physics. It is the first time Japanese scientists have shared the same prize. The winners are Makoto Kobayashi, 64, executive director of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science in Tokyo, and Toshihide Masukawa, 68, professor at Kyoto Sangyo University in Kyoto, and Yoichiro Nambu, 87, professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, who is a naturalized American.

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