Though I do recall seeing this a couple of years ago, back in 2005, it has now made the leap from prototype to product. Developed by the Japanese company Tsukuba Uni, the HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) suit will allow seniors and the physically disabled to regain mobility and independence. One of the earlier prototypes had even helped a man to climb to the summit of a mountain. Granted, he had been helped to within a few yards of the peak, it stilled showed the possibilities of this type of early cybernetics.
Battery driven, the HAL uses a series of both body and brain sensors to amplify movement. The body sensors feel pressure from the user and respond accordingly. The brain senors don't mean a partial lobotomy. Rather the user would wear a helmet that would act much like an EEG (Electro-Encephalo Graph), simply picking up on the electrical impulses generated by the human brain and received by a helmet full of sensors. The suit is said to allow elderly wearers to lift up to 20 kilograms or near 50 pounds of weight with reduced effort.
With test trials completed, it is said that there will be roughly 400 of these suit built each year and rented out to various health care institutions and individuals. The cost you ask? About 500,000 Yen or a cool $4000 to $5000 bucks USD. But don't expect to snatch on from ebay anytime soon (though I'd buy one in a second), as there will be monthly rental charges and service fees. As investors go, Daiwa tossed in a fair bit of fundincapital, as did the Tsukuba spin off company Cyberdyne. No Terminator pun intended . . . at least I hope that isn't where this is heading.