ReWalk, the robotics company that received the first FDA approval to provide robotic exoskeleton suits for personal use, is developing a brand new product that could change the lives of millions of Americans. Yahoo Finance got a first look at ReWalk’s soft exoskeleton suit, a project it’s working on in collaboration with Harvard University’s Wyss Institute.
ReWalk CEO Larry Jasinski told Yahoo Finance’s Seana Smith in the video above that its new suit targets a different demographic. It’s designed to help millions of patients suffering from stroke and multiple sclerosis regain mobility.
“As we looked at exoskeletons from our experience with spinal cord injury, there were many things that apply for someone who may have had a stroke, but their needs are different,” said Jasinski. “This device helps someone who’s having trouble lifting their foot, trouble walking.”
The lightweight, small, wearable suit is much simpler than ReWalk’s device that enables paralyzed patients to stand, walk and navigate stairs. Unlike the ReWalk 6.0, which includes robotic leg attachments that can weigh nearly 50 pounds, the soft exoskeleton looks more like the harness construction workers wear for safety than a bionic system. It consists of a waist belt fitted with a motor and battery, flexible cables that transmit power from the motor to the ankles, leg braces and shoe sensors. And it’s all activated by the flick of a switch.
ReWalk has not yet determined how much the soft-exoskeleton suit will cost, but says it will be more affordable than the ReWalk 6.0, which has a list price of $77,000.
ReWalk’s next step will be to get the suit approved by regulators, which Jasinski says could happen as early as next year.