Japanese technology may make life better for older Americans

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Imagine this scenario: A nursing home resident with Parkinson's disease is placed in a robot suit and suddenly becomes 10 times stronger. Walking, lifting and eating without help are instantly routine activities. Futuristic? Not really. In fact a robotic suit known as the Hybrid Assisted Limb (or HAL) made its American debut this week in Chicago at the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging's annual meeting. HAL, like many new innovations, was developed in Japan. Thanks to unmatched cooperation between researchers and the government, Japan has taken the lead in developing technology-driven tools that can help the elderly. One such device is a bed that transforms into a joystick-controlled wheelchair. Then there's Riba, a robot nurse disguised as a giant teddy bear. Riba can lift patients weighing up to 134 pounds.