Rex Bionics exoskeleton to help paraplegics improve their quality of life

By | July 20, 2010

No, this is not an article about another robotic dinosaur recreated from bygone eras – instead, Rex is an interesting new breakthrough in the field of technology and medicine, that will allow people to see themselves walking again.

The project in question was developed by Rex Robotics, a New Zealand company, that had been working on this new robotic exoskeleton for 8 years. It recently unveiled the finished machine, and one of the first people to try it out was Hayden Allen, who used it to walk for the first time in five years after injuring his spinal cord. He shares his experiences in the video.

Rex, which is powered by a rechargeable battery and weighs 84 pounds, is basically two robotic legs that are custom-designed for each user, to provide the best possible balance and movement. People in wheelchairs who no longer possess the ability to walk can use it to get back that feeling and perform tasks that are hard to do on a wheelchair. Best of all, the exoskeleton is simple and easy to control. A joystick applies pressure to each leg and moves it forward in a timely and balanced fashion, achieving a steady pace. Strapping yourself onto it is also easy and requires no assistance from anyone else, which is also an important feature for many people.

Besides the simple joy of being able to see themselves walking again, Rex can also improve people’s health in the long-run. Being in a wheelchair for too long can reduce quality of life and bring about other diseases, something which can be avoided by regularly using Rex. While it can not completely replace a wheelchair, it will definitely give people a lot more options. Initially it will cost around $150,000 USD, which admittedly is a lot of money, but if it takes off, the price may drop in the future.

But talk is cheap so watch the device in action.