Bionik integrates Amazon’s ‘Alexa’ voice commands into exoskeleton

Bionik Laboratories Corp. has announced the integration of Amazon’s Echo technology, as well as the “Alexa” voice command service, into its ARKE lower-body exoskeleton.

According to a Bionik press release, users of the ARKE device will be able to activate various modes, such as standing or walking, by saying, “Alexa, I’m ready to stand” or “Alexa, I’m ready to walk.” This is accomplished with multiple sensors located throughout the exoskeleton in combination with the Alexa technology.

“We are excited to complete the integration of Amazon’s Echo and Alexa into our ARKE exoskeleton, combining the power of Amazon’s voice-activated technologies with our powerful assistive robotic solutions for the next evolution in treating consumer immobility,” Michal Prywata, cofounder, chief operating officer and director of Bionik, said in the release. “In building ARKE, we had one goal in mind — to empower the user to take back their mobility and regain the ability to complete tasks that the rest of us deem normal, like walking to the refrigerator or going to get the mail. This pairing of our robotic technologies with the power of Amazon’s Alexa further pushes the boundaries of what technology can do within the home health care industry, and we believe we will help many impaired individuals regain the mobility they once lost.”

According to Bionik, the ARKE exoskeleton uses artificial intelligence to translate information from its foot and joint sensors to activate the device and imitates the movements that would allow an able-bodied person to step.

The current ARKE device is in clinical development and is meant for patients with spinal cord injury or who have severe lower-body impairment caused by stroke, traumatic brain injury or other accident. According to the company, future uses may target the aging population, “who rely on unstable walkers or other wheeled devices for mobility.”

“The continued evolution of our ARKE exoskeleton is important for our company, as the market for assistive mobility products continues to grow at a rapid pace across the globe,” Peter Bloch, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Bionik, said in the release. “Aside from the large number of citizens who have suffered injury, the global population is also aging rapidly, and those citizens will be in need of a home-based assistive product that can truly provide them the mobility that a wheelchair, cane or crutches currently can’t. We will continue to seek out partnerships and technological advancements that will enable us to serve that population on a mass consumer scale.”


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