Not a member yet? Register for full benefits!

VR Interfaces: PK100 PowerKnee


Overview of PK100 PowerKnee
The Tibion PK100 PowerKnee is a powered partial exoskeleton, designed to be slipped on over a weak or damaged natural leg, and augment its ability to function normally.

Created by Tibion Bionic Technologies out of Moffett Field, California, US, the device fits over the entire leg, from the foot all the way up to the thigh. A shoe insert marks the base, and it actually uses the individual's shoes for partial structural support. The PK100 molds around the person's foot inside the shoe, before extending up their ankle, and flowing in a single piece over the knee.

The entirety of the touch fabric and carbon fibre powered 'boot' for lack of a better term, is deeply interlaced with sensors and motor actuators. The actuators cluster round the joints, whilst the sensors swarm all over the surface of the device, reporting back to a computer system on the front of the thigh.

This system uses the sensory input in a manner not too dissimilar from mocap or proprioception for that matter. It treats the sensors as muscle position indicators which tell the system the current position and orientation of every part of the foot and leg. By studying those positions as they change over time, the system tries to understand what the wearer is trying to do - sit, stand, walk, run, twist the foot, etc.

The system learns as it is attached to a person over time, teaching itself new movements. This means that it can adapt to any individual gait. It also means that whilst the PK100 won't recognise a tango or waltz the first time, it will begin to by the third or fourth time.

Because it learns passively, the system is not connected to the user's nervous system in any way. This makes it completely non-invasive. It also means that any tactile feedback is impossible. However, for a leg, this is not an issue most of the time.

Untitled Document