Cionic Neural Sleeve Enhances Human Mobility: The Swiss designer Yves Béhar and the San Francisco-based business Cionic have teamed up to create a sleek medical device that will assist those with mobility issues to lead more self-reliant lives.
Can well-designed products make technological tools more approachable and useful?
After his daughter, then eight years old, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, San Francisco-based technologist Jeremiah Robinson felt an overwhelming sense of helplessness as he watched her struggle with mobility aids like crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs. This fueled his desire to find a better solution for his daughter. Robinson left his job and moved his base of operations to the garage, where he laboured diligently for four years to bring about his lifelong goal of creating a world in which persons with mobility impairments might lead fulfilling, self-sufficient lives. Using artificial intelligence to enhance human mobility in real time, his first product, the Neural Sleeve, was released by the firm he founded, Cionic, in 2018. The mobility assistance is the result of a collaboration between Swiss designer Yves Béhar and his highly regarded industrial design and branding firm, fuseproject, and people with disabilities such as stroke, cerebral palsy, degenerative spinal cord injuries, MS, and Parkinson’s.
Neural Sleeve’s goal all along has been to alleviate the emotional toll of constant assistance from others that people with mobility differences experience. The wearable gadget mimics the style of athletic leggings to give the impression that it is a sports item rather than a medical one; the fabric and colour palette were also carefully selected to help patients feel comfortable as they heal.
There’s a strong emphasis on neural signalling in the sleeve. A patient wears it by fastening a velcro strap around their lower leg, and then electrodes inside the sleeve deliver software-controlled currents to stimulate muscles. The design of the product integrates two separate technologies into a single, covert garment: first, a device that predicts mobility intent by measuring the electrical signals the brain sends to the muscles to elicit movement; second, a programmable simulation that, based on the former information, channels augmented current to different muscles, allowing for a spectrum of movements. The wearable design, in conjunction with an easy-to-use app, gives consumers the freedom to plan and execute their own mobility routes.
Three major design obstacles were at the heart of Béhar’s motivation for creating a Neural Sleeve. The first involved intricately incorporating a wire bus to supply power to the electrodes, all while keeping the bionic garment’s supple, lightweight fabric in place. Second, the user should be able to put on and take off the smart device with ease. The donning and doffing process was created with the technological needs in mind, with special attention paid to positioning and placement so that it would be accessible to a wide variety of users. The design team at fuseproject explains this concept in an official release, saying, “This is especially relevant to stroke survivors or other users that have limited mobility on one side of their body, as the opposite (more mobile) side must do all the work.” Over fifty sleeve prototypes were built to try out various user interface designs. And finally, the goal was to arrive at a design that wouldn’t look out of place in regular people’s lives, rather than something weird, boring, and cumbersome.
Multiple sleeve trials were performed to learn about the device’s effects on a wide range of users. The condition of foot drop, in which a person is unable to lift the forepart of one or both feet, was reported to improve as a result of this procedure. Cionic reports that patients’ range of motion has increased by an average of nine degrees, which is considered to be a remarkable therapeutic achievement. Testing the sleeve’s effectiveness in the home was also done to see how it would work over time. According to Cionic, “not only has mobility improved for many of these users, but the number of users experiencing moderate to severe pain was reduced by 60%, and the number of users experiencing moderate to severe anxiety or depression was reduced by 75%.” The sleeve has been approved by the FDA and will be available to the public sometime in 2019.
The partnership between Cionic and fuseproject brings attention to the growing problem of mobility impairment as the U.S. population ages, which affects over 35 million people. Therefore, individualised, comprehensive solutions are required. Wearable technology like the Cionic Neural Sleeve envisions a future in which disabilities no longer exist thanks to advances in information and communication technology. The book imagines a world where artificial enhancement becomes as commonplace as breathing, and where people of all backgrounds can enjoy a sense of security and worth.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I want to try out the gadget before I buy it?
There is currently no way to test out the gadget before buying it. Our Step Together Guarantee states that you can return the Neural Sleeve and stop making payments at any moment within the first 12 months if it isn’t helping you.
To What Shades Are They Available?
There are presently two colour options for the Cionic Neural Sleeve: Graphite and Sapphire. There are plans to introduce new hues in the near future.
When it comes to daily use, how long can it go before the battery dies and needs to be recharged?
Expect the battery to last anywhere from 8 hours on a single charge, depending on how often you use it.
When it comes to the device, how long can we expect it to last?
When cared for properly, the Control Unit has a long lifespan. There is a rechargeable battery within the Control Unit, but you can’t take it out. Do not try to switch out the battery on your own. If you plan on using the system frequently, charge it every day; otherwise, charge it at least once a month. Don’t compromise your Control Unit’s battery life by going without charging it for too long. For information on how to use and store the product, check the manual’s technical specifications.
Could It Make Me a Faster Walker?
The effects of the sleeve on different people are unknown. A number of people in our research have shown an increase in walking pace. Many others have noted an improvement in their stamina, allowing them to walk further or for longer periods of time.
May I Wear Both Sleeves?
We suggest beginning with the sleeve on the side that has experienced the most damage first.
Are Classes Offered?
Yes, we will arrange up a time for you to meet with one of our mobility consultants online so they can show you how to put on your Neural Sleeve. The mobility expert will observe how you move while wearing the Neural Sleeve and make any necessary adjustments to the parameters to ensure your maximum efficiency and comfort.
How do I know what to anticipate from my monthly progress evaluations?
The monthly progress assessments are your chance to check in on how you’re doing with the Cionic Neural Sleeve, reassess the individualised programme you’ve been following, and get answers to any questions you may have.
Exactly How Bad Is The Pain? The Question Is, How Does It Feel?
No discomfort should be felt from the functional electrical stimulation. People who have tried it say it feels like a tingling, tapping, buzzing, or pulling in the muscles. All of the stimulation settings are customizable so that everyone may discover their sweet spot.
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