Skip to Main Content
In a warehouse that looks like a cross between a mad inventor's garage and a climbing gym, a pair of mechanical legs hangs from the ceiling on ropes. With the quiet whir of four motors, one in each hip and knee, the legs take a step, then another and another. This is an exoskeleton walking suit, and it is taking the hundreds of thousands of steps that regulators demand to prove that it's no mere toy but a reliable medical device, one that just might change the lives of people who thought they'd never again rise from a wheelchair. The Berkeley, Calif., warehouse is the home of Ekso Bionics (formerly known as Berkeley Bionics), a young company that's about to step out onto the world stage. Early this year the company will begin selling its Ekso suit to rehab clinics in the United States and Europe, to allow patients with spinal cord injuries to train with the device under a doctor's supervision. By the middle of 2012, the company plans to have a model for at-home physical therapy.