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FDA approves powered robotic exoskeleton for clinical and personal use

After decades of being relegated to science fiction, robotic exoskeletons have made amazing strides in just the past few years. This week, the FDA approved a lightweight robotic exoskeleton, called the Indego. While the Indego isn’t the first of its kind, it punches above its weight in terms of what it can offer. It’s lighter — almost twenty pounds lighter — than either of its prior-art fellows, the ReWalk or the Phoenix.

Vanderbilt professor of engineering Michael Goldfarb, who designed and built the device, meant the Indego to be easily useful to a wide range of people. One of his design goals was that the exoskeleton should give users the maximum possible degree of personal freedom. It had to be easily put on and taken off from a wheelchair. It’s got a control scheme a lot like a Segway. Users make the exoskeleton move by leaning from the torso — lean forward and it takes a step, lean back for a few moments and it will sit down. “You can think of our exoskeleton as a Segway with legs,” Goldfarb even said in a statement.

Image by The Plain Dealer

Another major difference between the Indego and its competitors is that it uses a rehabilitation technology called functional electrical stimulation (FES), which delivers targeted electricity through the skin sort of like a TENS unit. FES itself is a well-established treatment for spinal cord injuries and other neuromuscular problems — the Christopher Reeve Foundation even mentions FES by name — but while this specific application of FES shows a lot of promise, it may or may not actually be therapeutically useful.

To that end, the DOD is interested enough in Goldfarb’s work that they threw down cash to put him at the head of a four-year study of the benefits of such exoskeletons for people with spinal cord injuries. They’ll be working with the Mayo Clinic, among others, to study the impact of exoskeletons on the lives of actual humans, not just for military applications. The study will involve 24 participants, and it’s also intended to determine whether regular use of the Indego will help with the host of secondary medical problems that being wheelchair-bound can cause, including but not limited to pressure sores, blood clots, cardiovascular and respiratory problems, and chronic pain.

Right now the sticker price is supposed to be a cool $80,000, which leaves the Indego far out of reach for most. But that story isn’t over. The next step, according to the original Vanderbilt press release, is to get the Indego a Medicare/Medicaid “rate code,” which would percolate down to private health insurers and ensure that patients could be reimbursed for up to 80% of the cost of a given piece of medical equipment. While the Indego has been available in Europe since last year, Parker Hannafin, the manufacturer, still has to demonstrate to the FDA that the device has the secondary medical benefits it claims. Assuming their success, the company plans a commercial stateside launch for Indego in the near future.

Source: http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/224615-fda-approves-powered-robotic-exoskeleton-for-clinical-and-personal-use

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Founded by Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Itskov in February 2011 with the participation of leading Russian specialists in the field of neural interfaces, robotics, artificial organs and systems.

The main goals of the 2045 Initiative: the creation and realization of a new strategy for the development of humanity which meets global civilization challenges; the creation of optimale conditions promoting the spiritual enlightenment of humanity; and the realization of a new futuristic reality based on 5 principles: high spirituality, high culture, high ethics, high science and high technologies. 

The main science mega-project of the 2045 Initiative aims to create technologies enabling the transfer of a individual’s personality to a more advanced non-biological carrier, and extending life, including to the point of immortality. We devote particular attention to enabling the fullest possible dialogue between the world’s major spiritual traditions, science and society.

A large-scale transformation of humanity, comparable to some of the major spiritual and sci-tech revolutions in history, will require a new strategy. We believe this to be necessary to overcome existing crises, which threaten our planetary habitat and the continued existence of humanity as a species. With the 2045 Initiative, we hope to realize a new strategy for humanity's development, and in so doing, create a more productive, fulfilling, and satisfying future.

The "2045" team is working towards creating an international research center where leading scientists will be engaged in research and development in the fields of anthropomorphic robotics, living systems modeling and brain and consciousness modeling with the goal of transferring one’s individual consciousness to an artificial carrier and achieving cybernetic immortality.

An annual congress "The Global Future 2045" is organized by the Initiative to give platform for discussing mankind's evolutionary strategy based on technologies of cybernetic immortality as well as the possible impact of such technologies on global society, politics and economies of the future.


Future prospects of "2045" Initiative for society


The emergence and widespread use of affordable android "avatars" controlled by a "brain-computer" interface. Coupled with related technologies “avatars’ will give people a number of new features: ability to work in dangerous environments, perform rescue operations, travel in extreme situations etc.
Avatar components will be used in medicine for the rehabilitation of fully or partially disabled patients giving them prosthetic limbs or recover lost senses.


Creation of an autonomous life-support system for the human brain linked to a robot, ‘avatar’, will save people whose body is completely worn out or irreversibly damaged. Any patient with an intact brain will be able to return to a fully functioning  bodily life. Such technologies will  greatly enlarge  the possibility of hybrid bio-electronic devices, thus creating a new IT revolution and will make  all  kinds of superimpositions of electronic and biological systems possible.


Creation of a computer model of the brain and human consciousness  with the subsequent development of means to transfer individual consciousness  onto an artificial carrier. This development will profoundly change the world, it will not only give everyone the possibility of  cybernetic immortality but will also create a friendly artificial intelligence,  expand human capabilities  and provide opportunities for ordinary people to restore or modify their own brain multiple times.  The final result  at this stage can be a real revolution in the understanding of human nature that will completely change the human and technical prospects for humanity.


This is the time when substance-independent minds will receive new bodies with capacities far exceeding those of ordinary humans. A new era for humanity will arrive!  Changes will occur in all spheres of human activity – energy generation, transportation, politics, medicine, psychology, sciences, and so on.

Today it is hard to imagine a future when bodies consisting of nanorobots  will become affordable  and capable of taking any form. It is also hard to imagine body holograms featuring controlled matter. One thing is clear however:  humanity, for the first time in its history, will make a fully managed evolutionary transition and eventually become a new species. Moreover,  prerequisites for a large-scale  expansion into outer space will be created as well.


Key elements of the project in the future

• International social movement
• social network immortal.me
• charitable foundation "Global Future 2045" (Foundation 2045)
• scientific research centre "Immortality"
• business incubator
• University of "Immortality"
• annual award for contribution to the realization of  the project of "Immortality”.

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