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tv   Tech Know  Al Jazeera  September 2, 2013 12:30pm-1:01pm EDT

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next, helping people with wearable robots. "techknow" is next. instead they use ipads almost welcome. i'm here to talk about innovations that change lives. we're going to explore the intersection between hardware and humanity. we're doing it in a unique way. this is a show about science by scientists. so let's check our team of nerds. phil torres studies insects in the rain forest of ecuador and peru. tonight our real-life spider-man takes us to colorado where iron man comes to life helping one woman stand tall despite a devastating disability. this is an engineering who designed a buy bionic eye.
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this young man invented a test to predict cancer. i'm a science major with a background in neurology. that's our team, and now let's do some science. we're back here at our favorite meeting place have been some coffee, and you guys did some incredible stories this week. it's interested to start out and hear about this exosuit for you, phil. >> the wheelchair was invented about 1500 years ago, so i'm sure we're due to an upgrade. this might be it, guys. check out this robot. this is where it's getting tested, but it's there on an actual person. i got to meet the test pilots
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that put these suits through their paces and some really amazing people. let's take a look. >> hi. >> this is a dream happening to them. >> these kids on a summer camp in aspen, colorado are about to give amanda a life changing gift to help her doing something she hasn't been able to do here since she was paralyzed in a horrific skiing accident 21 years ago. >> i want to invite the kids to just have at it and rip into it! >> it's a bionic robot called xo, a battery powered external skeleton that gives her legs the power to do this. >> are you ready? >> three, two, one. blast off!
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>> and this is -- >> i'm walking, guys! >> and even this. the technology is so cutting edge that amanda is the first person in the united states to own one. >> the moment she stood up, i was just amazed because she's been sitting down for 21 years, and that first feeling is to stand up again. i would have been thrilled to be in that position. >> it was an emotional moment for these kids, who spent the past year selling countless cups of lemonade and raising money from generous donors to make it happen. >> that was like my dream right there. all i wanted to see was her walk. it was amazing. >> for amanda, it was the culmination of a dream she's had ever since she was told she'd
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never walk again. >> the most profound moment was when i stood up, and i tried to see the children's faces. some of them, the really little ones, they were just in awe. then to have that heart-to-heart hug. when i hug in a wheelchair, there's a disconnect, and get heart-to-heart hugs when i stand up. >> can you promise me a standing hug? >> yes. >> okay, good. >> amanda took her first step to make that dream a reality in 2010. that's when she got a call from robot's creators asking her to be a test pilot for the new technology. she went to the san francisco bay area and took it for a test run. how did it feel to be able to stand and just look at people? >> the first time i stood up, i
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went home and i cried hard in all honesty. maybe it's the emotions that i had been dreaming about for so long, and i felt so good in my body. i slept hard. i wasn't in pain. >> total ending steps? >> 4,850. >> all right! >> so nice! >> the technology is fast hive moving and they're constantly coming out with something new. that's why i love flying back to california and saying, okay, bring it on. what am i going to try today? >> this is xo's headquarters where the magic is made and perfected. here robots like this are put through paces all to give people that are paralyzed a chance to do what they've been told is impossible.
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>> i feel like the luckiest man alive. >> nathan harding is a co-founder of xo bionics and one of the inventors. it was first developed for the battlefield as a device to help soldiers carry heavy loads long distances. >> there's a human thing in the military with soldiers getting injuries due to large loads they're carrying, and, in fact, they want to carry more. we were helped to develop xo skeletons to carry it. >> harding says the key break through is creating a wearable robot to support its own weight with a minimum of energy. that means it can be powered by a small battery pack, and then there's that whole walking thing. >> it takes over the function of the muscles in your legs, and it can do that either completely for like a person who is completely paralyzed below the waist or partially for someone
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maybe trying to relearn how to walk like someone who just had a stroke. >> i have to initiate the first step? like amanda, jason is an exo test pilot. >> i put the device in walk mode and then take the first right step. as i move my body, the exo will move with me. if i stop and don't go to the next position, the exo stops. so i can go forward and lateral, and there we go. we're walking again. >> in 2008 his spinal cord was injured in a motorcycle accident that almost killed him. jason says he found out he was paralyzed in a dream he had while he was in coma. it was his girlfriend, karen, who delivered the news. >> her message said this almost verbatim. hey, baby, it's me. you were in a bad motorcycle accident, and the doctors say you'll never walk again. if this isn't the life that you want to live, we understand and we'll let you go. if you want to stay and fight,
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i'll be here with you. i could hardly tell that story without tearing up, but i know that i've always been a fighter. so i wasn't going to give up. >> exo helped him battle to defy the odds. >> the first time i stood up in exo was just ridiculous. it was amazing. there's so many emotions going through it, and you have your fear of that. they're getting ready to blast off to space. >> test pilots like amanda and jason, how have they helped you guys advance this technology? >> oh, they've helped immensely, because everything is unpredictable once you introduce a human into the system. i remember being in the room with 13 ph.d.s and they all had a different idea of what would
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be the exact way to control something. without people like amanda and jason, we'd really be at a standstill, because we couldn't test anything. >> the first time i used the exo, the physical therapist was the only one that had control. so they would monitor my body position and take the steps when they felt my body was safe position. >> darrell wouldn't walk you into a wall or anything cruel like that. >> while ekso has pushed the boundaries of what is possible, the robot still has its limitations. right now it can only be used in a rehabilitative setting with a trained physical therapist. >> are you ready? >> i'm ready, yep. >> then there's the price tag. from $110,000 to $140,000. ekso
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bionics hopes the fda will approve it for home use which will increase demand and decrease price. >> there's nothing about this device that should make it more expensive than a high-end motorcycle. we just have to get to those kind of quantities in production, and we can drive the cost down substantially. then we can make it more accessible. >> give me a hug. get a little closer. there. i don't get enough of these heart-to-heart hugs. >> if you need another hug, i'm your man. >> all right. all right. thank you. >> that was incredible. i mean, what a feat of engineering. those were basically stand-alone robots that a person hops into, right? >> when they're sitting on their own, they look like a little person sitting there. it's kind of weird. >> can you drive them and headache them -- make them go? >> that's how they start. the physical therapist trains
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them by making the right leg, left leg go first. that's the first step to make them take steps on their own. >> it's like when you take driver's ed and the instructor has their own wheel. >> they have it right there. >> the kids who like worked so hard to raise that money to help her being able to see her stand up for the first time. i loved it when they were like, we never knew how tall you were. >> it's like magic. this technology is like magic, that these kids never thought it would be possible. this person they only knew as being in a wheelchair all of a sudden can stand and walk around with the help of this robot. it's amazing. >> they came out of the military. it started in the military. does that mean that we're actually augmenting the people that we're helping as well? are they stronger with these? >> that's hard to say. i will say this came from what was called the hulk, so it's this military technology, this suit that was designed to allow soldiers to carry really heavy things and put less stress on the body.
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then they saw the medical application for it, and for the scientists there, they loved it. they say it's the best job in the world, because they get to work with these paraplegic people that were the test pilots for this technology. as you guys saw, they really put it through the works and they see how to make it better. so every month they make improvements on this thing. >> can the paraplegic lift things with these legs? >> not yet. right now it's still in the walking phase. it's teaching them how to walk again, which is a miracle in itself. >> sure, sure. >> i'm really, really excited to see that miracle in action, so come back. right after the break, we're going to see how this technology is transforming lives. >> we want to hear what you think about these stories. join the conversation by
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protestors. i'm morgan radford, you can see us again at 7:00 eastern.
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they presented the president with an autographed jersey, and obama shared a few praise. >> coach shula retired with more wins than any coach in history. each time that record has been challenged, team after team has fallin short. >> michael eaves joins us to talk more about that. the president was having a lot but should you be made aware if you are consuming them. that's next on "consider this."
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care of our family, take care of our children and to get 7.35 raise up to 12.35 or 15. nothing. here is my question for every member of
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>> welcome to al jazeera i'll del wawrts. these are hour. the japanese government promising more action on that leaking nuclear power plant. and west indian labor day parade in new york. >> today president obama tries to rally congressional support for a strike on syria. he'll be meeting with key senators including john mccain, who


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