Robotics company, Bionik Laboratories, has integrated Amazon’s Echo and Alexa into its ARKE exoskeleton in an effort to help individuals with lower body disabilities move around with ease by just issuing voice commands to the mobility device. With this new integration, paraplegic users can now control ARKE using Amazon’s voice-activated technologies in order to walk to the kitchen or stroll in the garden, for example. The ARKE robot exoskeleton incorporates Bionik's transmission and actuation system as well as a device control through which persons with lower body impairments can trigger various activity modes including walking and standing, among other movements. The long-term goal is to help paraplegic individuals rehabilitate and regain their ability to walk.
The integration of Amazon’s artificial intelligence-powered digital assistant to ARKE now makes it easier for paraplegics to move to places using a voice-activated interface, sparing them the burden of having to shift a part of their body just to use the exoskeleton. Michal Prywata, co-founder, chief operating officer and director of Bionik, said the company designed ARKE with the goal of enabling impaired individuals recover their mobility skills, adding that the combination of Alexa and the assistive robotic system advances the benefits of technology to the home healthcare sector. Bionik Laboratories built ARKE with various sensors in the feet and joints area, while several inertial measurement units work to analyze body weight distribution so that paraplegics are able to initiate a move easily. The role of Alexa’s AI technology is to interpret all the data transmitted by those sensors and consequently set the ARKE exoskeleton in motion.
ARKE is currently in clinical development mode and Bionik Laboratories aims for the exoskeleton to cater to the needs of people with injured spinal cord and traumatic brain injury in addition to lower body difficulties. Alexa’s addition to ARKE is just the latest development in how companies are taking advantage of the personal assistant to enhance the capabilities of their product. Last month, online booking site KAYAK announced that Alexa device users can start booking hotel rooms with its Alexa Skill, which includes the ability to monitor a user’s flights, search flights, and schedule alerts for ticket price.