As I described in my ’emerging technologies’ report, Wallace (the real one, not Ed Mill) was ahead of his time when he developed the techno-trousers that could be programmed to take Gromit for a walk.
Israel and Japan are the world leaders in robotics and both have been refining their own ‘exoskeleton’ trousers for the disabled to wear for some years. However Israel are the first country to try to export their idea – the Re-walk – which was on view at the NEC yesterday. The case-studies of the transformation they bring to the life of a paraplegic are heart-warming. The price tag is not – Argo who produce them had talked about at £10k tag in the past – now they are out in the field this has risen to £50k. As with all technology this will come down over time, but it raises a new yet familiar challenge. Wouldn’t we all want a returning soldier who had been paralysed while on active service to have access to such technology? And what gets cut to ensure that they do?
About Julia Manning
Julia is a social pioneer, writer and campaigner. She studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991, later specialising in visual impairment and diabetes. During her career in optometry, she lectured at City University, was a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital and worked with Primary Care Trusts. She ran a domiciliary practice across south London and was a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry.
Julia formed 20/20Health in 2006. Becoming an expert in digital health solutions, she led on the NHS–USA Veterans’ Health Digital Health Exchange Programme and was co-founder of the Health Tech and You Awards with Axa PPP and the Design Museum. Her research interests are now in harnessing digital to improve personal health, and she is a PhD candidate in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) at UCL. She is also dedicated to creating a sustainable Whole School Wellbeing Community model for schools that builds relationships, discovers assets and develops life skills. She is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine’s Digital Health Council.
Julia has shared 2020health's research widely in the media (BBC News, ITV, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions & Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio 4 Today, PM and Woman's Hour, LBC) and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week.
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