Does the word “Cyberdyne” mean anything to you?
In sci-fi terms, it’s the fictional company behind Skynet in the Terminator movies. In real life, it’s the name of an (unrelated) Japanese company, though they also deal in technology and robotics, too.
And their main product is certainly analogous: an exoskeleton suit that enhances the wearer’s strength and stability.
Officially known as HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb), with specifications for medical use on the legs, the cyborg-like apparatus was approved by the FDA in December to begin distribution to licensed medical facilities in the U.S.
This version of HAL (no relation to the killer computer) has been used in Japan and the EU for some time to help rehabilitate those afflicted with lower limb disabilities. Once strapped onto the legs, sensors in the device detect bioelectric signals moving from the brain to the muscles when the user wants to walk. That triggers HAL to move, magnifying strength and balance, and making the experience both voluntary and autonomous.
You can’t take one for a walk just yet, as Cyberdyne is in the process of establishing a treatment center with Brooks Rehabilitation in Jacksonville, Florida to introduce their robo-legs to the country.
But with other versions of HAL being produced, including lumbar and arm support, and cyborg mechanisms already being used in certain workplaces — a real-life Terminator may not be far off.