Honda was founded with a single principle at its core: “utilizing technology to help people.” Typically, that has meant cars, motorcycles and walk-behind lawnmowers. But it is in this spirit that Honda also created the Walking Assist Device, a hip-mounted mechanical unit that assists users in the act of walking.
Weighing less than 5.7-pounds, the WAD uses thin motors and acontrol system in combination with hip angle sensors to assist in walking while also improving the timing and symmetry of the user’s gate.
Presently, only 100 units have been sent out to Japanese hospitals on a leasing program. While the WAD has received a great deal of positive feedback in its preliminary trials, Honda hopes to take what it learns from this larger-scale lease program and apply it to a broader release.
Powered by a small, onboard lithium-ion battery pack, Honda claims the WAD is capable of a 60+ minute operating time. Smartly, Honda has also made the WAD weather resistant and operational in temperatures from 36-degrees to 86-degrees Fahrenheit. The WAD also best operates in humidity levels between 30 and 85 percent.
As it stands, the WAD is only available in M-size (hip width: 13.3-inches) L-size (hip width: 14.9-inches), which makes it obliviously inappropriate for most Americans. Also, its limited temperature operation range cuts out most of the areas where retirees live, like Arizona and Florida, which often see temperatures well in excess of 86 degrees. Also, Florida often sees humidity well above 85 percent in the mornings, making the WAD a questionable choice for older Floridians. At least this version.
Sure, we’re jumping the gun a bit, as the WAD is not yet available outside of Japan. Regardless, we’re quite excited by the development and eagerly await when we don’t have to walk from our desk to the office fridge under our own power.