Cyberdine Inc. is the proud creator of the HAL exoskeleton. This robot suit can actually make people walk. I mean, people who suffered from an accident or some muscle atrophy like the polio can walk again using this robot. So why would such a helpful company choose these evil names? For reminders, Cyberdine is the company that wiped out most humans in the Terminator movies. And HAL was that super intelligent computer from 2001, a Space Odyssey (you know, the one that goes crazy and kills most of the crew in the spaceship...). Sadly, I don't have that answer. But I do know a little about its origin, and their products, and how to get a job there...
Cyberdine Inc. was created by Yoshiyuki Sankai, a professor at the University of Tsukuba, near Tokyo. The whole city is a hub for robotics research, hosting the AIST (Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) and other important laboratories. Pr. Sankai was studying how to use the nerve signals to generate commands for humanoid robots. When his design was good enough, he started a company that would focus on making a practical "Robot Suit" to help people walk: this is how the HAL Exoskeleton was born.
Cyberdine's CEO Yoshiyuki Sankai
presenting the HAL suit.
The company was created in 2004, and today the HAL Exoskeleton is used by many rehabilitation clinics all over Japan. They help patients recover from serious injuries or muscle atrophy, and make them walk again. Some research has even proved it could be used on patients who have never used their limbs. I saw a video at a conference: a man with the right leg paralyzed at birth by polio could use it for the first time of his life with the Robot Suit.
I don't know if Cyberdine
Inc. is a profitable business yet, if you talk about money. But it
clearly is profitable to humankind! Plus, Japan has an anti-military
constitution, that makes the HAL suit the only exoskeleton with no
military applications. And Pr. Sankai intends to keep it that way.
More in the HAL Exoskeleton on this page.
While marketing the HAL Exoskeleton was the first goal of Cyberdine Inc., they now have developed more products. First, they improve the suit with more power, to be able to help people carrying heavy loads. It could be used in the Industry or to carry patients safely in hospitals. They also develop a hand exoskeleton, and may develop humanoid robots or bionic legs (that actually replace missing limbs, not just support your weight).
I talk in the HAL Exoskeleton article that you need nerve connections to use the suit. But if you could control directly from your brain and thoughts, they would be able to help even more people. They are developing a brain scanning helmet with that goal in mind. Right now, it can just show where the brain is most active with fancy colors. They have a long work ahead to process that signal and create the commands for the suit...
There also have completely different projects. The first one is some kind of "life log", that allows a person to monitor his own health data like the heart beat rate, the blood pressure and others. With this, they can send the data straight to the doctor without moving to the hospital, and have quicker and easier access to health advice and health care from home. Cyberdine Inc. already has the technology, but they need to design a safe and efficient data center to allow secured data transfers and processing.
The latest project is Tacto: a computer table that allows multi touch interactions. Actually, it's not only multi touch: any number of fingers or hands can interact with it with any kind of shape. The table can see the shape of the contact between your hand and the table. So you can create a wall with the side of your hand or use your whole hand to erase the picture you've just drawn.