Domo Arigato

By ERIN BALDASSARI  |  May 2, 2011

robotiwalk480

iWALK


THE BOT | PowerFoot BiOM

THE INDUSTRY | Medical prosthetics

THE PROBLEM | Heavy, inert prosthetic feet are hard to lift

THE SOLUTION | A powered robotic foot that pushes against the ground

LEARN MORE | iwalkpro.com

Wartime always propels prosthetics technology forward, says iWalk CEO Tim McCarthy" "During wartime, no president wants to be known as the one that didn't do anything for injured soldiers once they get back home."

So it's no surprise that after eight years of two wars, the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration have been pouring money into prosthetics research. One result is iWalk's PowerFoot BiOM, invented by the MIT Media Lab's Hugh Herr, himself a double amputee who uses the device on a daily basis.

"Many people with prosthetic limbs develop [injuries] in the lower back or in the hip joint, because the [intact limb] takes the brunt of the force," says McCarthy. "It's like you're always stepping in a hole, so every time you step, you're pulling the prosthetic limb out of the hole."

The PowerFoot combines sensors, motors, and springs to push back against the ground the same way a biological foot would, so that the wearer isn't using all her strength to lift it and put it back down. "When we put the device on users, they don't want to go back to the conventional technology," McCarthy says. "The first thing you hear is, 'I feel like I've got my ankle back.' "

The current model fits an adult male. Future iterations of the device will be fit for all body types, and eventually, for all types of limb pathologies, including supportive structures for intact limbs that have suffered paralysis.

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |   next >
  Topics: News Features , Joe Jones, MIT, XBOX,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY ERIN BALDASSARI
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   PRESCRIPTION OPIOIDS HAVE WREAKED HAVOC ON THE BAY STATE. FOR BIG PHARMA, THAT’S FANTASTIC NEWS.  |  October 23, 2012
    First there's the pain. Then comes a prescription for an opioid: OxyContin, Tylox, Percocet, Roxicodone, among others. But what often follows is a vicious cycle of tolerance, increased dosages, abuse, and addiction.
  •   BOSTON'S RAP CLASS OF 2011  |  September 29, 2011
    The announcement of  last year's Rap Class  rang so loudly that we had to step back in the arena and cause more noise.
  •   DOMO ARIGATO  |  May 02, 2011
    When Czech playwright Karel Capek first used the word "robot" nearly a century ago, it was to describe a coldly calculating machine, evil in its perfection and scornful of human frailty. And so began our fascination with the possibility of humanoid machines designed to be our underlings but destined to be our overlords.
  •   PHOTOS: SCENES FROM THE RALLY TO RESTORE SANITY  |  November 01, 2010
    With nary a pair of be-skidmarked Betsy Ross boxer shorts in sight.
  •   PHOTOS: CURREN$Y AT MIDDLE EAST DOWNSTAIRS  |  October 14, 2010
    Curren$y takes the Smoker's Club Tour to the Middle East Downstairs, along with Big K.R.I.T., Smoke DZA, and others on October 4, 2010.

 See all articles by: ERIN BALDASSARI