Tom Chi  

Real Ultimate Exoskeletons

December 10th, 2004 by Tom Chi :: see related comic

It’s the holiday season again - a time to relax, reflect, and give the gift of exoskeletons. Yes. Whether you need a hand around the house, a way to show rude guests to the door, or simply take a load off, there is an exoskeleton for you.

This stuff is so excellent, but man is the world going to be wierd. I still do a double take when someone scoots by on a Segway, so imagine the day when herds of exoskeletal-grandmas start jogging by on their way to bingo. I had better sit down. Anyhow, I was supposed to write about the control theory and HCI issues behind these systems. I guess I’ll do that a bit later.

In the meantime we can talk about cyborg warriors of the future, or jogging grandmas… which is it?

8 Responses to “Real Ultimate Exoskeletons”
B wrote:

http://www.gizmodo.com/gadgets/robots/toyoto-ifoot-and-iunit-026866.php
found this on gizmodo.

Bob Salmon wrote:

Obviously, if the robo-suits are running Windows CE, the grannies would be quicker to walk to bingo, as repeatedly getting out of the thing, rebooting, and then getting back in again would take a non-trivial amount of time. (Sorry, cheap shot.)

Steering this cheap shot in a more cyborg warriors kind of direction, I think it would be great if the reset switch could be the thing’s backside (subject to enough pressure). Then you really could re-boot it.

Tom Chi wrote:

A system like this would need to be largely bug-free: no random crashes allowed. It would also need to confer complete control to the human if possible. The instant that one of these suits accidentally kills someone due to machine error or difficulty of use, we’re going to have serious problems.

Kevin D wrote:

I am not sure it has to be “bug-Free”. I am not sure it would be aimed at Grandma, this is the next big thing to hit the paintball industry. You are no longer constrained by a small ammo hopper. One of these would have the capacity to keep you shooting for days. Dual cannons on eaither side of the cockpit, maybe even independently manuverable or you could slave them together. hmmmm Naturally the only type of hit that would activate a “kill” would be one from the open front cockpit. I bet this could revitalize the Paitball industry. Beyond, that I think utility trumps coolness in MOST cases and rebooting would suck while grandma is in the middle of the highway crosswalk.

Bob Salmon wrote:

Sorry - I may have been a bit too subtle. What I was driving at was that you could give the thing a kick up the backside to reboot it, which would be a very satisfying reaction to a BSOD.

Alain Vaillancourt wrote:

Wel, yes, Ripley sure looked OK in that exoskeleton, and I suppose Toyota could make something good out of those concept vehicles.

But where are the coffee cup holders? And what about some shades that drop down so the ladies can look at themselves on the tiny mirror? You can’t just add these things anywhere on an exoskeleton because you could have just about anything snagging itself on it or knocking it off.

I think you really need a cockpit, a round one on which nothing can get snagged. And after that’s done you notice you don’t have an exoskeleton anymore but something like the pods in 2001.

Kevin Cheng wrote:

What Kevin D is describing really sounds essentially like live Mechwarrior.

I’m game.

Moi wrote:

Mmm… Alien.

Correction: Yummmm, Sigourney Weaver.


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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?