A company world-famous for its cars and motorcycles is also working to get more people walking.
Honda Motor Co. is applying technology from the Asimo, its bipedal robot, to a device that assists people who have trouble walking.
The automaker is teaming up with the National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology (NCGG) to launch a joint test for the device in late August.
Honda's latest walking device, called the Stride Management Assist, is based on the Asimo and weighs 2.4 kilograms. It is attached to the body from the waist to the thighs and supports the locomotion with motors at the base of the legs. With this device, Honda said, people with limited walking ability can comfortably walk with a longer stride.
Honda provided 40 units of the new device to a planned NCGG exercise program designed to help elderly people avoid becoming dependent on nursing care services. The program will be held at a seniors' health center that opened on July 29 in Obu, Aichi Prefecture, where the NCGG is located.
On the opening day of the center, some 20 seniors took the new Honda device for a spin.
“I felt like I was unconsciously directed to move my legs up and down,” said Ayako Toyama, 74, who she said takes 10,000 steps every day. “I felt like my body had gotten lighter. I sometimes get pain in my knees in the evening, but I think I can walk more easily with this device.”
Hiroyuki Shimada at the NCGG said, “This is the world’s first survey to see whether technology-assisted walking improves people’s motor function and is effective in reducing the number of people dependent on nursing care.”
“From this program, we will obtain data to come up with measures to help the elderly maintain a healthy life,” he added.
Honda plans to market the device after a series of improvements, based on the results of the test.
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