Bionik Laboratories, a company based in Toronto, Canada, is developing a lower body exoskeleton to get wheelchair bound people to start walking again. Currently in its second generation prototype, the ARKE exoskeleton is designed to be light, powerful, efficient, and perhaps most importantly, aiming to achieve a comfortable and natural walking gait.
The company just announced that it has now integrated Amazon’s Alexa Voice Service into its ARKE exoskeleton, giving the user of the device the ability to control it using spoken commands. Most powered exoskeletons need guidance from the user, or a rehab specialist, regarding what it is expected to do. Be it fully supporting a walk, or just assisting with staying upright, the exoskeleton can only do something if it’s directed to do a specific task, and that is usually done by pressing buttons on a device.
The ARKE can now switch between different modes by uttering sayings such as “Alexa, I’m ready to walk,” which immediately engages the exoskeleton to follow the command.
The ARKE is still in clinical development and is expected to first make its presence in rehabilitation facilities, eventually hopefully becoming something that a physician can prescribe for a patient to use at home.