While Marvel Comics’ Tony Stark still holds the advantage with his Iron Man suit, citizens of Japan are getting closer. Cyberdyne, Inc., a Japanese company, has unveiled a robotic suit that amplifies the strength of the wearer by up to 10 times. There’s no clumsy joystick or difficult control schemes to master. All the wearer has to do is move normally.
The “Hybrid Assistive Limb” or HAL works by detecting the trace electrical charges that are transmitted when a person moves. Once detected the robotic limb moves in concert with the real limb and prest-o: super-strength.
The system can run between two and a half and five hours on a single charge. The two-leg version is available for a $2,300 monthly fee. Which seems to be a small price to pay for superpowers, given what most comic characters have to go through. Unfortunately, the company is only offering it to Japanese residents currently.
As exciting as this sounds, I can’t fully embrace this technology with open arms just yet. I can’t help but notice that it shares names with two of the most malevelant artficial intelligences in science fiction, the HAL 9000 from “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Cyberdyne, the creators of Skynet from the Terminator series. Perhaps it is just coincidence, but then again, that’s exactly what the machines would want us to believe.