Is REX a better walking suit?Oct 09 09:26
It’s 2012 and exoskeletons are all the rage. And there are two main companies creating these miracle suits right now, if you have the money and a sense of Ironman adventure that is.
First, there’s Esko Bionics, based out of Cali, a company that makes an exoskeleton based on H.E.R.C, an original military design. The company has been promoting their product a lot this year. It’s a truly amazing machine, but the major drawback with the current design - crutches are needed in order to use it.
The crutches with this exoskeleton have always bugged me. I was so happy when I first heard about it, my dreams of walking may omg finally come true, but then…bummer…I saw that even low paras with great torso control have to use crutches when they’re in it. Quads can’t even use it right now. I did hear they’re working on a self-balancing version in the near future.
And that brings me to the New Zealand version of the exoskeleton, the REX. This exoskeleton does all of the amazing things the Esko suit does - let’s you stand up and walk, walk up stairs, yet (and it’s a big yet too) it’s completely self-balancing. No crutches are needed! It is the only hands-free, self-supporting exoskeleton in existence. HUGE. And you operate it using a joystick. Beautifully easy (just like how I remember walking to be).
An online friend of mine, Sophie Morgan, a para from London, just had the opportunity to use Rex actually, and she feel in love (a great article about her using it can be read here). She took it to the seaside, where people avoided eye contact lol, she helped cook with her boyfriend who’s a chef, and (this is so me), she did menial chores like folding laundry in it.
Rex, despite it’s more advanced controls, only costs $90,000 (however some sites say it costs mosts), and the Esko costs$130,000. I don’t get it? As an American girl, I want to stay true to American companies, but if you’re talking about bionics, I guess I'm blind to borders. Badly, so badly, I really want to try a Rex.
If you’re interested in trying one out, they’re readying their Houston offices for their official opening (their first US-based office). You can keep up-to-date on Rex's latest news by following them on Facebook here.
While not many wheelers can afford the $90k price tag (without selling their home), it’s good to know they're out there, kinda like $100 hamburgers.
Hey, I might hit the lotto, right?
What do you think of exoskeletons? Would you use one?
Compare the two yourself
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.