March 2, 2007
Life Imitating Art - The Latest in Japanese Cyborgs
Japan, the epicenter of cyborgs in anime, is also a leader in robotics. In the Tech News of the Day thread, r3plikazt47 provides this gem from CYBERDYNE, Inc. No, it’s not a Cyberdyne Systems model T-800 (that’s a different company); Yoshiyuki Sankai’s Hybrid Assistive Limb or “HAL” gives us the beginnings of a mecha type suit we see so often in animes. The proto-mecha suit that gives its wearer cyborg-like potential, including the ability to lift an extra 88 pounds or walk long distances without tiring (at least until the battery runs out).
Cyberdyne describes the method of movement enacted in their Cyberneic Voluntary Control system this way:
Cybernic Voluntary Control( Bio-Cybernic Control System)
When a person attempts to walk, for instance, the brain sends electrical impulses to muscles. when they arrive at muscles, faint bio-electrical signals appear on skin surfaces. HAL’s system works as described below:
- the bio-electrical sensors attached to the skin read the signals
- the computer immediately analyzes how much power the wearer intends to generate
- calculates the adequate amount of power assist and command power units
- power units generate torque and put limbs into action.
These process is completed a fraction of a second earlier than the muscles actually move…
Most interesting are is the multiple advances underway in attempting to “sense” the human nervous system. HAL isn’t an invasive approach to cyborg connectivity, but given the number of research efforts going on in this area, its only a matter of time before cyborg implants make their way into our society. The era of the posthuman will be arriving in the very near-future. More closer to this year though are the applications Cyberdyne already sees for its product:
… HAL is a robot suit which can expand and improve physical capabilities of human being. By wearing HAL-5, you can hold up to 40 kg load by arms and can increase the maximum weight of leg press from 100 kg to 180 kg.
Various applications for following purposes are expected.
- Heavy physical labor supports at factories, plants
- Rescue supports at disaster site
- Care personnel supports
- and more ….
We all know what the “and more..” part is - the hope that we too can become anime cyborg characters. From an entertainment standpoint, HAL adds a whole new dimension to Cosplay. I can’t wait to see the pictures!