Atoun Inc. has developed a new prototype, HIMICO, a ‘powered wear’ to assist walking, designed to help elderly people experiencing ‘locomotive syndrome’ to walk around effortlessly.
Atoun has adopted wire-type walking assistance technology from Panasonic Corporation to create a new assist suit that can really be “worn.” It is said to be easier to put on and take off in comparison with conventional assist devices.
The product was developed using the funding provided in FY2017 by the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) to promote integrated medical research and development (for care-giving robot development and practical applications) and by applying the know-how acquired through the development of the exoskeleton-type walking assistance powered suits.
And from a clinical perspective, Atoun has secured the cooperation of Dr. Masahiko Sumitani of the University of Tokyo Hospital in researching the impact this powered wear may have on walking.
There are hopes that this will help restore patients to a healthy state from not only musculoskeletal illness, but also from a wide range of potential illnesses.
HIMICO is quite light, weighing 3.5kg, making it easy to put on and take off without any assistance, so it will help create an environment that enables the elderly to easily integrate walking training in their daily routine.
Atoun also hopes that the powered wear will also be adopted by healthy elderly people for light exercise such as walking and hiking, and in this respect, the Panasonic Corporation Tokyo Olympic & Paralympic Enterprise Division and its BI Division have conducted a demonstration experiment to test and further improve the current prototype.
In the future, while developing powered wear that may be used for walking training to keep potential illness at bay, Atoun will also continue to develop prototypes that will help promote good health and begin test marketing in 2019 with a view to bring the product to the market.