Wearable ReWalk device finds an investor and strategic partner in Japanese robotics firm

A robotic exoskeleton that was demonstrated for President Obama earlier this year as one of Israel’s most cutting-edge inventions is getting a boost from a Japan-based robotics manufacturer.

Yaskawa Electric Corporation has invested in and formed a strategic partnership with ARGO Medical Technologies, which makes a device called ReWalk that enables individuals with lower limb disabilities such as paraplegia to walk.

When it’s strapped on the body, the device uses computers and motion sensors to detect subtle changes in a person’s center of gravity, such as a forward tilt of the upper body. That triggers its motorized legs and power hip and knee movements, so that the user doesn’t have mess with tethers or switches to begin moving.

ARGO said Yaskawa made a capital investment in the company but didn’t say how much, referring to the investment only as the “largest single investment” for the company and part of its largest funding round to date. It will use that money to support the expansion of R&D and efforts to enhance the device’s design for streamlined manufacturing.

Yaskawa will also handle Asian distribution of ReWalk. The device comes in two models — one for use in rehabilitation centers and other for personal use by consumers. Both models are available in Europe and Israel; in the U.S., the ReWalk Personal is still awaiting regulatory approval, which a company rep said could come by the end of the year.

MedCity News reached out to ARGO’s rep to ask for more detail and will update this story with any information provided by the company.

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