NBC, CBS, The Associated Press, numerous local affiliates and various online news outlets were running stories all week about a new “wearable robot” named IndegoTM. The mechanical suit, currently being developed into a commercial version by Parker Hannifin Corporation, is earning favorable reviews for its portability and light weight. IndegoTM weighs a mere 27 pounds, the lightest of all such powered exoskeletons, and can be broken down and transported in a backpack.
The buzz around this device is exciting on many levels. It could give countless patients the ability to walk again and restore a great deal of independence. It could help ward off other health conditions that can develop with lack of mobility, and it could help with rehabilitation of paraplegics. And it was developed right here at Vanderbilt.
Pictured to the right is Brian Shaffer testing the Vanderbilt exoskeleton at Shepherd Center's satellite facility in Franklin, Tenn. (Joe Howell/Vanderbilt)
Before it was known as IndegoTM, the “wearable robot” was the focus of a team of engineers led by School of Engineering Professor Michael Goldfarb. Assisting in the development was research engineer Don Truex, graduate students Hugo Quintero, Spencer Murray and Kevin Ha, and former student Ryan Farris. Interestingly, Farris is currently the technology development leader for the device at Parker Hannifin.
In a 2012 interview with Vanderbilt News, Goldfarb said the idea stemmed from his doctoral work with people with spinal cord injuries. He said that he ultimately wanted to make life easier for people, to give them the opportunity to “just stand up and walk”.
From the looks of things, that reality may not be too far off.
Want to Learn More? Visit Indego's website.