Techno-trousers arrive in Britain

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?

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About Julia Manning

Julia Manning is a social entrepreneur, writer, campaigner and commentator. She is based in London and is the founder and Chief Executive of 2020health, an independent, social enterprise Think Tank whose aim is to Make Health Personal. Through networking, technology, research, relationships and campaigning 2020health has influenced opinion and action in fields as diverse as bioethics, alcohol, emerging technologies, fraud, education, consumer technology and vaccination. Julia studied visual science at City University and became a member of the College of Optometrists in 1991. Her career has included being a visiting lecturer at City University, a visiting clinician at the Royal Free Hospital, working with south London Primary Care Trusts and as a Director of the UK Institute of Optometry. She specialised in diabetes (University of Warwick Certificate in Diabetic Care) and founded Julia Manning Eyecare in 2004, a home and prison visiting practice for people with mental and physical disabilities using the latest digital technology, which she sold to Healthcall (now part of Specsavers) in 2009. Experiences of working in the NHS, contributing to policy development, raising two children in the inner-city and standing in the General Election in Bristol in 2005 led to Julia forming 2020health at the end of 2006. Julia is a regular guest on TV and radio shows such as BBC News, ITV’s Daybreak/ GMB, Channel 5 News, BBC 1′s The Big Questions, BBC Radio, LBC and has taken part in debates and contributed to BBC’s Newsnight, Panorama, You and Yours and ITV’s The Week. She is mum to a rugby-mad son, a daughter passionate about Shakespeare, and wife of a comprehensive school assistant head-teacher. She loves gardening, ballet, Zimbabwe, her Westies Skye and Angus, is an honorary research associate at UCL and a Fellow of the RSA.
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