Assistive Technologies

  • ​Assembling cars can be a physically-demanding task, which is why Ford recently began equipping its factory workers with assistive exoskeletons. Hyundai is now getting in on the act, with plans to start testing two such devices in its North American factories by the end of the year.
  • ​Performing repetitive and/or strenuous tasks can be hard on a worker's body, leading to muscle fatigue and even injury. Assistive exoskeletons are designed to help keep that from happening, with the MATE from Italian company Comau being an interesting recent example.
  • ​For people who cannot speak, nor move their arms, hands or even heads, computer-connected eye-tracking systems allow for communications via eye movements. Such systems have some drawbacks, however, which a new prototype headset is claimed to address.
  • The International Space Station (ISS) is about to get a strange new crew member. The Crew Interactive Mobile Companion – or CIMON for short – is described by Airbus as a kind of flying brain, and will assist with experiments during the upcoming Horizons mission.
  • ​Toyota has unveiled an assistive robot test bed that builds on previous work undertaken by its Partner Robot wing. A human operator controls movement remotely in real time, with the T-HR3 busting moves like performing Tai Chi and building Lego-like structures with precision.​
  • Toyota has reached a new landmark in its Partner Robot project with the successful completion of the first North American in-home trial of the Human Support Robot, a bot developed to help people with a disability carry out everyday activities.
  • ​While most of us use smartphones, tablets or computers with relative ease, doing so can be very difficult for people with upper-body mobility issues. Paired with assistive switches, Komodo OpenLab's Tecla-e lets users control up to eight smart devices at once.
  • ​Whether they're playing sports or suffering from joint injuries, some people could definitely benefit from using a wearable assistive device. That's where Levitation comes in. It's a spring-loaded knee brace that augments the user's quadriceps.​
  • Japanese researchers at Hiroshima University and Daiya Industry Co. have created an assistive exoskeleton that does away with heavy batteries and motors. Instead, their Unplugged Powered Suit (UPS) harnesses the wearer's own weight.​
  • Elderly or disabled people that struggle with everyday tasks are the intended users of a pair of smart glasses being developed through the ADAMAAS project. The glasses are designed to determine what the wearer is doing, react when a mistake is made, and provide context-appropriate assistance.
  • Ford has announced a new "pre-collision assist" system that takes advantage of data from radar and cameras to actively detect pedestrians and automatically apply the brakes to avoid or at least reduce the severity of accidents.
  • For people with motor control issues, enjoying a bowl or cereal, soup or ice cream is a two-person job. But the team at Scotland-based design engineering consultants 4c Design are looking to give such people their spoon independence with the S'up Spoon.