Omigosh! Omigosh! Hey! Hey, guys! You remember when I got all excited about a year ago with the news about Google’s augmented reality glasses, and I was like “The future is here!” and then remember when giant robot battle suits came out and I was all like, “SQUEE!!!” and then some guys said we could send tweets from beyond the grave and I was like, “Say whaaa”? Remember all that? Well, you’re not going to believe this, but we have more future happening. World, say, “welcome” and “what the hell took you so long?” to Robot Suit HAL, the robotic exoskeleton.
HAL, which stands for “Hybrid Assistive Limb”, was developed by Japanese robot makers, Cyberdyne, under its CEO Tsukuba University professor, Yoshiyuki Sankai. Its main use has been to help the elderly and disabled get around by providing support to their own limbs and it’s already being used in Japan in hospitals, nursing homes and other care facilities. Now the news broke that HAL has received a global safety certificate, paving the way for its use, not only in Japan, but worldwide.
Okay, I’ll say it again. SQUEEEEEE!!!
This is so cool I’m totally going to ignore the fact that the exoskeleton is called “HAL” (As in – murderous psycho computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey) and it’s made by a company named “Cyberdyne” (As in – evil machine overlord in every single Terminator movie). No. The level of awesome here supersedes any technophobia. I mean, yeah, so maybe HAL is much stronger and it could, if it so chose, overpower us and hijack our bodies and use as vessels until it develops its own, much stronger bodies to make the job of overthrowing mankind that much easier. Sure, that could happen…
No! I’m not gonna let this moment be spoiled. We have cybernetically enhanced limbs, people! Woohoo!!!
Some of you may be wondering just how HAL works. Simply put, when our brains send signals to our muscles commanding them to move whichever limb we want to move, weak “biosignals” connected to these commands can also be detected on our skin. HAL’s sensors are able to detect these signals and it, in turn, follows the same command in the corresponding robotic limb, augmenting our own muscular functions. We’re literally controlling our cyber-limbs… *tone drops to excited whisper* with our minds!!! How cool is that?
You’ll note I said HAL “augments” our muscles. As in, makes us stronger. Yeah… HELL YEAH!!!
Cyberdyne also developed an alternate version of HAL to aid workers in the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was damaged after the earthquake and tsunami hit back in 2011. The wearer was able to lift 60kg (132lbs), was protected from radiation and HAL was also able to monitor the wearer’s vital signs.
Everything we’ve ever dreamed of is coming true. We have Geordi La Forge eyes, computer generated girlfriends and now exoskeletons that can help old ladies walk better and life their… sofas. It’s a safe bet flying cars are just around the corner now. Just sayin’.