Mobility is critical to our survival. Mobility is required to perform all the basic survival tasks in a pre-industrial culture; hunting, gathering, fishing, finding water, farming, all these require mobility. As resources and weather patterns change, longer range mobility may become necessary as well. Survival literally can depend on being mobile.
In our modern industrial society, people move around a lot. So much so, that we have invented all sorts of things to help with that mobility. From the human powered bicycle to a myriad of powered contraptions that increase the distances we can travel. Even to the moon.
In agrarian economies you work where you are born, and the resources available are limited to the distance you can walk. Once mobility is increased, there are more choices, more possibilities, more opportunities. This accounts for the extraordinary popularity of bicycles all over the world. People can choose to find employment outside the farm or village.
Electric motor driven long boards and two-wheel balance boards offer powered mobility that is small, lightweight and can be put in a knapsack and carried over your shoulder. Many models are available with speeds of 10 miles per hour and higher. Drive ranges can be as low a 7 miles per charge, and up to 15 miles. These are totally new product categories that did not exist 5 years ago and are made possible by the application of low cost microcontrollers using the ARM Cortex motor control technology. check out http://www.boostedboards.com and http://www.roverboard.com
Mobility is literally part of our anatomy. When the body is damaged our mobility can be extremely limited. In the past our options have been limited to wheelchairs as the means of providing mobility for those among us who need help. But the same mechatronic technology that makes the 2 wheeled mobility boards possible also leads to the creation of light weight exoskeletons that can impart full mobility to people who otherwise cannot walk.
Exoskeletons are mechanical actuators that operate externally and in conjunction with a human being to add force and articulation that enables the wearer to walk. Some of the research is defense funded with the goal of expanding the performance limits of military personnel. Soldiers who can travel farther and carry more payloads will be able to have the advantage in any situation. check out http://www.eksobionics.com
The ability to create energy dense actuators in light weight, small volume packages is leading to product innovations that were unimaginable a few years ago.
Innovation is what we do.