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?