Last September at Tokyo’s Home Care and Rehabilitation Exhibition in, Matsushita Electrical Industries showed a robotic jacket which lets a partially paralyzed limb move in response to cues from the undamaged arm.
An article on CNETnews.com describes the way it works:
Sensors at the elbow and wrist allow a healthy arm to control the eight artificial muscles, which are powered by compressed air, on the paralyzed side.
Price at the time of the Tokyo show was around $17,000 USD; but this article says that Matsushita hopes to bring the jacket to market in 2009, selling first to rehab facilities, and, eventually, to individuals for around 2,100 dollars.
According to the article in TODAYonline, the point isn’t merely to move the paralyzed arm, but to train the damaged nerves and muscles.
The “power jacket” weighs in at just about four pounds; in this incarnation, it’s got a sleek Star Trek look, which is only fitting, considering that the concept is so wonderfully Borgian.