On March 8 and 9, 2011, just days before the largest earthquake in its recorded history literally moved Japan 8 feet, the country played host to the inaugural International Forum on Cybernics 2011 in Tokyo.
While calling the event groundbreaking might qualify as crass, researchers showcased some truly innovative ideas in the world of cybernics, an emerging field that Japan's University of Tsukuba Cybernics department describes as the "fusion of human, machine and information systems." The word itself is a fusion of cybernetics, mechatronics, and informatics.
One of those ideas, the HAL-5 exoskeleton robotics suit by Tokyo-based company Cyberdyne, is a wearable device that helps ordinary people accomplish extraordinary feats, such as lifting objects they otherwise couldn't. (We covered an earlier iteration of this in 2009.) Think of the improvements possible for caregivers, people with missing or paralyzed limbs, the elderly who want to continue living independently, factory workers, etc.… Read more