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For considerably less than six million dollars, too.
July 16, 2010 11:31 AM   Subscribe

REX is a "bionic" motorized exoskeleton that could make wheelchairs obsolete. Videos: 1, 2. Made in New Zealand by two British inventors, REX will be available internationally in the middle of 2011. Reported Retail Cost: (US) $150,000
posted by zarq (30 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
As long as this costs $150K, wheelchairs aren't obsolete yet.
posted by JauntyFedora at 11:32 AM on July 16, 2010


150K is pretty reasonable, I would have guessed at, oh, I don't know, maybe 6 Million.

Jokes aside, even though the functionality is fairly constrained, the smile on his face says it's worth it.
posted by HuronBob at 11:38 AM on July 16, 2010


There are plenty of people in wheelchairs that would not be able to use this device.

Also, when did this trend zooming waaaaay in begin? Show me the damn device, not just a logo and a 3 square inches of the surrounding area.
posted by DU at 11:41 AM on July 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Good luck getting this approved by your insurance company.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:42 AM on July 16, 2010


I saw this on the news yesterday and the look on the guy's face as he shook the Prime Minister's hand was amazing. AS much as I would love to make some mechwarrior jokes, this is an awesome thing!
posted by Fizz at 11:42 AM on July 16, 2010


There was a variation of this in the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie.
posted by rhizome at 11:55 AM on July 16, 2010


I think these would be a god-send to many, and I hope they continue to work on making it cheaper and more available. It's a fantastic product.

But even if they only cost $20 it could never make the chair even close to "obsolete". The wheel-chair is far too simple, safe, versatile, and practical.
posted by TimeTravelSpeed at 11:57 AM on July 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


It seems very slow, which is a major disadvantage vis-a-vis wheelchairs, which enable users to move at at least a normal walking pace.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:07 PM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah it looks very slow. And a little bit precarious to go climbing stairs with.

If you fell over in one of those, or fell down the stairs, how would you get back up?

A good start though, I guess the tech will improve over time.
posted by memebake at 12:11 PM on July 16, 2010


Imagine using this for practical purposes. If he went grocery shopping with these on, he better make sure he buys his frozen foods last or they'll be thawed by the time he checks out. I don't see this particular piece of technology being used for any practical purposes. It's more of a novelty -- "Let's get these paralyzed people walking!" I'm sure it's a great feeling but after 20 minutes, I'd be ready to get back into my wheelchair.

But if we have to start here to get to the end point, so be it. I am not ready to give up my wheelchair for these--I started using it when I was still able to walk faster than these legs!
posted by thorny at 12:34 PM on July 16, 2010


Reminds me of the iBOT from Dean Kamen. Which is apparently not made anymore? That sucks. :(
posted by kmz at 12:41 PM on July 16, 2010


Get away from her, you bitch!

posted by Sys Rq at 12:41 PM on July 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah it looks very slow.

It'll get faster.
posted by new brand day at 12:47 PM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am sure price will go down and speed will increase as time goes on -- you have to start somewhere, but it's great to see an alternative to a wheelchair...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 12:52 PM on July 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Or you could go with this rugged design which costs $59.20, including the shipping to Africa, Afghanistan, Haiti, and many other places where this thing might as well cost a billion dollars.
posted by straight at 12:56 PM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those videos were frustrating to watch. I just wanted to see the guy walking. Instead, we get to see him take half a step before the camera darts around to a closeup of the joystick, or his face, or the robot legs with the empty wheelchair in the background. Everything but actual walking.
posted by Ratio at 12:57 PM on July 16, 2010


I'm not mobility-impaired, but I'd totally buy one if 1) I were rich and 2) it came with a scale-model Tokyo.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:07 PM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


LAME...




Ahem...

The way the technology is as displayed, I like the focus on the emotional impact of the man in the "suit" vs. the actual functionality. To people with functioning legs (i.e. me, anyway) it seems PAINFULLY slow... and really not a big deal. However, after recently destroying my back playing a sport, I realized how amazing it is just to be able to get out of bed without it taking 10-12 minutes of agonizing pain. I can't even begin to comprehend how it must feel to be simply vertical with the option of going from point A to B after such a long period in a wheel chair.
posted by Debaser626 at 1:14 PM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]



Good luck getting this approved by your insurance company.


Whatever....Bill Gates could get one for every parapalegic in America without making a dent is his worth.
posted by spicynuts at 1:29 PM on July 16, 2010


I'm sure it's a great feeling but after 20 minutes, I'd be ready to get back into my wheelchair.

But if we have to start here to get to the end point, so be it. I am not ready to give up my wheelchair for these--I started using it when I was still able to walk faster than these legs!


Agreed. It's very slow. It's bulky and rather impractical. I want to see that end point!

My dad was wheelchair-bound for the last 10 years of his life. I thought about him a great deal while I put the post together. I suspect he would have done just about anything to stand and walk again. I'd like to think this is a step in the right direction. (no pun intended.)
posted by zarq at 1:36 PM on July 16, 2010


Metafilter...the first place in the online world that will criticize personal flying machines when they go on sale for $1,000 each in the future.

I mean, come on...for that price, I'd rather get a banjo and a first edition richard dawkins.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:01 PM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm imagining a version of this where the operator could lock it into a seated position and use it as a wheelchair and then if needed, they could stand up and walk. The only thing I can't figure out is what to do with the wheels themselves.

Maybe they could collapse somehow and stow out of the way.

This, by the way, would be the most awesome first working Transformer ever.
posted by quin at 2:13 PM on July 16, 2010


The price will come down dramatically and it wouldn't be a stretch to see the NZ Government funding or part funding these in a few years. Let's assume that Moore's law works in reverse for pricing of an individual item, we're talking NZ$19000/US$13500 (i.e. a not awful second hand car) and if the Government funded 50%, you'd get 18 of these for the price of one senior doctor (for a year). That's cheaper than a lot of equipment and medicine they provide.
posted by doublehappy at 2:55 PM on July 16, 2010


This is nice, and does allow the user to climb stairs.

Stair-climbing ability aside, you can get standing, powered wheelchairs for $4K, and the latter are much, much faster; it shouldn't be too hard to attach a device for pumping one's legs back and forth to such a device, if one wants the benefits of increased leg activity.

Obviously, later iterations of this (and better-funded competitors) will of course move much more quickly, so it's a bit pointless to knock REX as it stands now.
posted by darth_tedious at 3:08 PM on July 16, 2010


I don't really see how this could protect you from a bear attack.
posted by orme at 3:18 PM on July 16, 2010


The price will come down dramatically and it wouldn't be a stretch to see the NZ Government funding or part funding these in a few years. Let's assume that Moore's law works in reverse for pricing of an individual item, we're talking NZ$19000/US$13500 (i.e. a not awful second hand car) and if the Government funded 50%, you'd get 18 of these for the price of one senior doctor (for a year). That's cheaper than a lot of equipment and medicine they provide.

Except that medical technology tends not to come down in price very quickly. For a variety of reasons, one of which is that they're serving a captive market that takes what it can get. My wheelchair is probably two hundred bucks worth of parts, but cost me (and my insurance company, which paid for part of it) US$5000.

And frankly, having dealt with the people who do repairs on wheelchairs and adapted cars, I'm going to stick with my chair - it breaks, but I bet it's a lot easier to fix than this thing.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 4:24 PM on July 16, 2010


It's slow to the point of being almost worthless. Looks like it would take 5 minutes to walk 10 feet. Obviously the makers are way ahead of me and my armchair critique, but only if this becomes a lot faster will it be practical. And the sides look a bit bulky; perhaps future models will be a slimmer width.
posted by zardoz at 5:37 PM on July 16, 2010


Whatever....Bill Gates could get one for every parapalegic in America without making a dent is his worth.
--spicynuts

Bill Gates is now spending his fortune trying to improve the educational system for our impoverished youth. Sounds like you'd rather he spend that money on exoskeletons.

As you said ....whatever.
posted by eye of newt at 7:30 PM on July 16, 2010


Needs more armor and heatsinks. And where are the hardpoints? I can't tell where the missile packs go. And what the fuck, no torso enclosure or NBC system? Dude's gonna get fragged to a fine red mist by the first Clan member that he meets. Fail.
posted by loquacious at 8:28 PM on July 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is it wrong for me to want one even though I don't need it?
posted by Hasai at 11:49 PM on July 17, 2010


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