Japan is the land of high tech, if you discount the national obsession with faxes. And you might also be forgiven for chuckling at that reputation as you peruse the funky but quite low-fi charms of chindogu “useless” gadgets created by the likes of Thanko or the wacky musical instruments of Maywa Denki.

Now comes another example that may amaze as much as amuse, and we’re not sure how it will affect Japan’s sometimes trouble prestige as a tech paradise.

MetaLimbs from Inami Hiyama Laboratory in Tokyo is a pair of robotic arms that you attach to your back and control with your legs and feet.

metalimbs robotic arms wearable technology

metalimbs robotic arms wearable technology

The “multiple arms interaction metamorphism” means you can speak to someone on the phone while typing with both hands (and not resorting to putting the person on speaker). The wearable system has two main parts: the mounted robotic arms and the positional tracking on the feet.

The tracking consists of two devices attached to, respectively, the knee and foot. Bending sensors on your toes allow you to control the fingers on the robotic hands quite precisely. There is also haptic response with the touch sensors embedded in the hands as well as force feedback in the foot tracker.

So, is this yet another chindogu? Or a serious revolution in wearable technology?

While designed for mounting to a seated user, the next stage of development for the MetaLimbs could see the system attached to standing or walking users. Needless to say, this opens up all sorts of mecha visions straight out of video games and science fiction.

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