February 10th 2016, was Day 1 of the first conference dedicated entirely to wearable robotics and exoskeletons, WearRAcon16. The event is currently being held at the Arizona Grand Resort & Spa in Phoenix Arizona. Many of the guest speakers that are presenting are no strangers to the Exoskeleton Report (ExR). Here is a quick recap of Day 1 at the Wearable Robotics Convention, but expect to see more in-depth content on certain topics soon:
The convention started out with a roar! Not from applause but from the roar of a wearable jet engine! This is a research product of Arizona State University and you can see it in action in this Vimeo video. This event was definitely off to a good start!
Next, in the first opening statements, Dr. Joseph Hitt, Executive Director of the Wearable Robotics Association outlined the goals of WearRAcon16:
- Globally link all groups, from researchers to customers
- Assist Startups and the “no names” making a difference
- Advocate for the proliferation of wearable robotics technology
- Develop Standards to facilitate the formation of the industry
- Educate what wearable robotics can and can’t do
The Wearable Robotics Association is looking for leaders. The organization will create groups to tackle the aforementioned five bullets and will present their progress at the next WearRAcon. The speech by Dr. Joseph Hitt was very much an extension of what he had to say last month about the overall state of the wearable robotics industry: Wearable Robotics Association Linking The Global Community.
Two of the first three speakers, Anthony (Tony) Neal-Graves from Intel and Geoffrey Ling CEO, SunQ LLC gave a passionate rationale on why exoskeletons are here to stay and they will do more for humanity than we can even imagine. Both made very strong arguments and we will delve further into what they discussed another time.
Next was Yoshiyuki Sankai, Ph.D., President and CEO, CYBERDYNE – Few people have worked as hard making commercially available exoskeletons as Dr. Sankai. Over the last 15 years, he has turned CYBERDYNE from a company with an unfortunate name to the largest dedicated exoskeleton manufacturer with a 3.2 billion market cap. To date there have been at least 300 Hal medical exoskeletons sold throughout the world. The company is also entering the industrial/construction market with a small waist exoskeleton that can assist with light lifting and carry operations.
CYBERDYNE is really much more than an exoskeleton company. Very similar to the way the movie Star Wars created an entire empire: Lucasfilm, Lucasarts, Skywalker Sound, Industrial Lights and Magic, etc… CYBERDYNE has created ISO standards, created research centers, explored using its technology for dozens of new applications and fostered good relationships with politicians from across the globe. The company recently made huge strides in Japan: HAL for Medical Use Exoskeleton To Be Sold As Medical Device In Japan (Dec, 2015). It is now looking to repeat its success in Germany and the US using the vast data it has acquired over the many years of clinical studies.
After a lunch break, WearRAcon16 continued with a presentation on human adaptability to learning to avoid falls and the opportunities for wearable robotics for people with diabetes. Simultaneously were two more presentations on soft sensors and EMG interfacing.
Later that afternoon, the creators behind the Revision Military Kinetic Operations Suit, B-Temia gave a full 30 minute presentation on both their military and civilian version, KEEOGO (see their website) wearable dermoskeleton™.
Last but not least, everyone attended a Welcome Reception. This social event allowed for everyone to have the opportunity to mingle, discover new exoskeleton groups and create connections. The WearRAcon16 Day 1 organized by the Wearable Robotics Association had a fantastic kickoff.
There will be many other presenters with authority in the exoskeleton and wearable robotics at WearRAcon16.