Print 38 comment(s) - last by DeepBlue1975.. on Sep 1 at 5:23 PM

Former Israeli Paratrooper Radi Kaiof uses the suit to climb stairs  (Source: Reuters)
Clinical trials underway; suit expected to go on sale soon

A new powered exoskeleton is enabled the disabled to walk again. Created by a small Israeli startup, the Iron Man-like "ReWalk" suit is already making converts among those who have worn it. Former Israeli paratrooper Radi Kaiof, paralyzed in 1988, wears the suit walking around the streets of Haifa.  "I never dreamed I would walk again", he says.

"Only when standing up can I feel how tall I really am and speak to people eye to eye, not from below".

The suit consists of motorized leg supports, a body sensors package, and a battery backpack. It operates via a remote control wristband, which contains various settings: sit, stand, walk, or climb. Once the user selects the appropriate action, they lean forward to activate the body sensors. In the current version crutches must be used to assist with balance; a more advanced model is eventually expected to dispense with this requirement.

Clinical trials are now underway in Israel's Sheba Medica Center.

The suit was invented by Israeli engineer Amit Goffer, who ironically was himself paralyzed in an accident in 1997. "It raises people out of their wheelchair and lets them stand up straight," explains Goffer, "It's not just about health, it's also about dignity." Goffer founded Argo Medical Technologies to develop and market the suit.

Argo's Chief Operating Officer Oren Tamari says that, while other agencies such as the US military are also developing powered exoskeletons, none besides the ReWalk will be operable by disabled people.

The suit is expected to go on sale for around $20,000, about the price of the most sophisticated wheelchairs now available.

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Seems like a great device
By jbartabas on 8/26/2008 1:16:58 PM , Rating: 2
The suit is expected to go on sale for around $20,000

Wow, that's relatively cheap actually! :) I was expecting it to cost much more ...

In the current version crutches must be used to assist with balance; a more advanced model is eventually expected to dispense with this requirement.

Unfortunately that part won't be a piece of cake :-(

RE: Seems like a great device
By acejj26 on 8/26/2008 1:21:40 PM , Rating: 3
maybe this is where Dean Kamen can use his expertise gained with the Segway to help out. such an addition to this skeleton would further mankind more than he hoped his Segway would.

RE: Seems like a great device
By 4play on 8/26/2008 1:35:06 PM , Rating: 2
You beat me to it, this plus segways could be the next big revolution in mobility for disabled.

RE: Seems like a great device
By murphyslabrat on 8/26/2008 1:37:12 PM , Rating: 3
Either that, or alcoholism becomes his segway into disability. *_^

RE: Seems like a great device
By Suntan on 8/26/2008 3:18:28 PM , Rating: 2
I believe I read originally that the segway design was intended to be used for a 4 wheeled wheelchair that could articulate up on 2 wheels so a handicapped person could move along at eye level with other adults when the terrain wasn’t too rough. Also, so that it could travel up stairs.

Basically, he couldn’t get the corporations that subsidize wheelchair purchases (Easter Seals, etc. ??) to add it to their list of acceptable chairs, or insurance companies to accept it so he didn’t think it would pan out. He did the Segway to make some money off of the tech while trying to get the tech going for the wheelchair market.

I could be wrong, but I remember reading or hearing that somewhere.


RE: Seems like a great device
By Aeonic on 8/27/2008 2:48:37 PM , Rating: 2
That's the wheelchair. It's pretty cool, I thought it was more innovative than the Segway.

RE: Seems like a great device
By Suntan on 8/26/2008 1:24:57 PM , Rating: 5
Unfortunately that part won't be a piece of cake :-(

Not as far off as you'd think.

A little video compliments of DARPA... ...pretty impressive if you ask me, just from the sensor technology alone.


RE: Seems like a great device
By jbartabas on 8/26/2008 1:33:55 PM , Rating: 2
It's a quadruped.

Asimo is doing pretty well though. But that's a slightly different topic.

RE: Seems like a great device
By Suntan on 8/26/2008 3:12:34 PM , Rating: 3
Give Asimo a kick to the face while he’s walking on ice and see how well he does.

4 legs or 2 that sensor technology and processing is at another level than the “Mackerana Dancing” robot.


RE: Seems like a great device
By VashHT on 8/26/2008 3:52:26 PM , Rating: 2
Agree with you completely, the way that BigDog robot reacts and stabilizes itself is totally unreal.

RE: Seems like a great device
By japlha on 8/27/2008 2:10:55 PM , Rating: 2
Have someone kick you in the face while walking on ice and see how well you do.

By DeepBlue1975 on 9/1/2008 5:23:43 PM , Rating: 2
That demonstration is simply amazing!

I've been thinking for several years that the ultimate evolution of an ATV should be one with limbs instead of wheels.

On extremely complicated terrains, you don't need the speed as much as you need the ability to adapt to changing conditions and hostile conditions.

When they can make things like this but with articulated feet (3 articulations on each feet would be great), we'll be watching at the ultimate ATV.

way to go Israeli
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/26/2008 1:55:17 PM , Rating: 3
Helpful devices such as this I think show the true underlining beliefs and values of the country and people of the nation that it comes out of - that is not every nation will give the needed support to individuals to create devices like this. This I believe will be just the start of something very good for handicapped individuals.

I read the article quickly but a couple things come to mind. A) with this a individual can now use a bathroom on their own. I know this sounds simple, but many need the help of others to get on the toilet. What a great piece of dignity this will give or give back to handicapped people. B) can it handle being under water or lots of water being poured over it – this would allow the individual to bath or shower without the aid of others.

RE: way to go Israeli
By Ringold on 8/26/2008 2:48:07 PM , Rating: 4
I'm always impressed with what comes out of Irsael. For a population so tiny and an economy so relatively small, it seems like they punch way above their weight. I hear far more interesting things come out of Israel, in all sorts of different industries, than say France, which is larger both in population and economy (10 times larger). Like you said, I think it comes down to cultural and economic policy differences.

Oh, and they manage to do all that while eating the occasional rockets raining down on towns. We know what the French do when rockets start flying...

By oTAL on 8/26/2008 2:43:30 PM , Rating: 2
"The suit was invented by Israeli engineer Amit Goffer, who ironically was himself paralyzed in an accident in 1997."

Somebody please explain Irony to masher (and to Alanis btw - she seems to have a problem there).

RE: Irony?
By Flunk on 8/26/2008 5:19:56 PM , Rating: 2
Irony would be something like stating "I will see that the man who killed the king is put to death." When, in fact the man speaking actually was the man who killed the king but did so without knowing. Points to anyone who gets that reference.

Irony is a literary device where a character makes a statement and because they do not completely understand the situation that statement turns out to have a meaning other than what the character intended.

Besides, am I not the only one who thinks that he developed the system because he was crippled?

RE: Irony?
By IraeNicole on 8/26/2008 6:53:31 PM , Rating: 2
The mother lover Oedipus himself!

Polycarbonate man
By TimberJon on 8/26/2008 12:58:25 PM , Rating: 2
Now thats a nice piece of technology. Good to see a great idea cut right through red tape/Etc.. and get to marketing. I suppose they dont have much red tape anyways..

But Can't wait to see any schematics on a revision. Gotta see if this guys startup has a website.

RE: Polycarbonate man
By 325hhee on 8/26/2008 1:24:02 PM , Rating: 2
This is a great invention for those that used to have the capability to walk, walk again. There's nothing more damaging to a person's ego, or morale when they lose that simple ability we take for granted.

I'm wondering how much more progress and R&D they have to do, to eliminate the crutches, and have a fully self sustaining Exo-suit. I can think of one or two people that would love this device.

Next step, what kind of military use for this, a soldier walking with a couple of cannons on their backs? Or more Sci-Fi like Exo Squad? I'm also excited about those aspects.

By 4play on 8/26/2008 1:31:41 PM , Rating: 2
I was just thinking that they could combine this tech with Segways to increase their mobility. That could accomplish most of what his does (minus the climbing of stairs).

Still this is an awesome piece of technology, a few more years and they will come up with some self balancing system. Best of luck to this project!

RE: Segways!
By keegssj on 8/26/2008 1:50:40 PM , Rating: 2
The Segway was a technology offshoot of a wheelchair that can climb stairs.

HAL 5?
By FoundationII on 8/27/2008 1:21:06 AM , Rating: 2
What's the big difference between that exoskeleton and the Japanese Hybrid Assistive Limb?
They look remarkably similar to me.

RE: HAL 5?
By TSS on 8/27/2008 8:21:53 AM , Rating: 2
from wikipedia:

"it operates by sensing weak electrical impulses from muscles via electrodes on the operator's skin and sending them to the onboard computer which in turn analyzes them and activates corresponding servos of the suit, mimicking the wearer's motions"

with paralyzed people, there's no signal to mimick. the whole problem of paralyzation is that the signals from your brain can't reach the nerve endings in say, your legs, because they have been severed at some point (usually with some sort of spinal injury).

hal 5 actually looks like a full body suit too, while this looks more like an exoskeleton.

It's a win win!
By LatinMessiah on 8/26/2008 1:20:17 PM , Rating: 3
You get to walk and look like RoboCop while doing it!

More Bad Standups
By murphyslabrat on 8/26/2008 1:35:54 PM , Rating: 3
So, if the comedian needs a crutch, is that still a stand-up?

By 2bdetermine on 8/26/2008 2:07:43 PM , Rating: 2
Why not interface the unit with OCZ N.I.A. Do away remote control interface.

By Brian23 on 8/26/2008 5:23:25 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously, this is one step closer to playing real life!

about time
By headbox on 8/26/08, Rating: -1
RE: about time
By michal1980 on 8/26/2008 1:06:20 PM , Rating: 2
why are people always so closed minded. Why is it allways one and not the other.

its not like we aren't spending billions on research for other things as well.

the fact that we have enough doctors left over to work on things other then just life threatening diease should be reassuring.

RE: about time
By Brandon Hill on 8/26/2008 1:06:49 PM , Rating: 3
I didn't realize that abortion was something that was under heavy investment. Isn't pretty much a routine procedure nowadays?

**Regardless, pulls out popcorn to watch fireworks**

RE: about time
By JasonMick on 8/26/2008 1:20:12 PM , Rating: 2
Brandon, you mean you haven't heard of the millions of dollars invested in developing the Baby Extractor 3000?? Why, it's 3000 percent more efficient in extracting babies!

But seriously, I think most medical funds go to *ahem* serious research, like cancer, aids, diabetes, and genetic disorders, to name a few.

By the way, very nice article, Michael, I find exoskeleton tech to be a really fascinating field.

RE: about time
By arazok on 8/26/2008 2:03:32 PM , Rating: 4
The baby extractor 3000 would be for automated c-sections. For abortions, that would be the baby Terminator 3000, known for the slogan “It’s not a tumor”.

RE: about time
By Diesel Donkey on 8/26/2008 1:09:30 PM , Rating: 5
Well, there are different ways to stand up, and they're all important to a man's dignity!

RE: about time
By weskurtz0081 on 8/26/2008 1:10:22 PM , Rating: 2
Why don't you do the DT readers a favor and post the amount of money spent on each one of those in comparison to what is spent on other things, like a cure for AIDS, or finding ways to eradicate cancer.

Judging from your post, clearly you must already have this type of information at hand.

RE: about time
By Misty Dingos on 8/26/2008 2:13:43 PM , Rating: 4
Plastic surgery grew out of the field of medicine that helped people deal with the horrifying realities of catastrophic disease and injury. Hardly a flippant field of medical endeavor. What some doctors do with their talent and training is up to them. But because of their skill if your mother had breast cancer they can reconstruct much of the damage caused by the treatment for that disease.

Abortions have been performed (with varying skill and success) since the dawn of mankind. While I am certain that many would like there never to be another abortion, wishing for a utopia that can’t exist is hubristic fantasy.

Erectile dysfunction is a real medical condition. The first truly effective and non-invasive treatment for it was found when the drug was being tested for its original intended use, high blood pressure. And because of its widespread use and availability premature infants have a chance to grow to become adults.

But I am sure that you would have a problem with that because it is no doubt in your mind if god wanted that child to live they wouldn’t need that drug to breathe.

Nor unfortunately could any of these doctors give you a heart to feel for other people or a mind to grasp that not every thing is a simplistic as you would like.

RE: about time
By FITCamaro on 8/26/2008 4:17:33 PM , Rating: 2
Extremely good post.

RE: about time
By FITCamaro on 8/26/08, Rating: 0
RE: about time
By Xavitar on 8/26/2008 9:05:55 PM , Rating: 1
On a more serious note, drug companies spend billions a year on lobbyists that help railroad useless and dangerous drugs through FDA approval and secure federal research grants .

Fixed that for you.

At least they pay taxes, unlike those pesky foreign drug companies... The Mexican and Colombian cartels.

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