Catching brainwaves and nerve impulses — what’s the difference?
Japanese company Cyberdyne is helping people who cannot walk to regain mobility by dressing them in a full-body robotic suit called “HAL”.
“HAL” reads nerve impulses, not brainwaves – Cyberdyne uses tiny sensors on the limbs to measure the subject’s intention to move, even if the physical act is impossible.
When a person attempts to move, nerve signals are sent from the brain to the muscles via motoneuron, moving the musculoskeletal system as a consequence. At this moment, very weak biosignals can be detected on the surface of the skin. “HAL” catches these signals through a sensor attached to the skin of the wearer, and responds by moving its arms or legs. Webcams and computer screens enable the user to pilot and communicate with friends and family through their proxy body.
The suit weights 23 kg and can be driven by battery without recharging for 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Cyberdyne expects “HAL” to be applied in various fields such as rehabilitation support and physical training support in medical field as rehabilitation and physical training, ADL support for disabled people, heavy labour support at factories, and rescue support at disaster sites, as well as in the entertainment.