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Japanese create levitating chair for elderly

Rehabilitation researchers at Kobe Gakuin University are developing a chair that levitates. But it won't let you leap buildings with the push of a button.

Robot Laboratory
Researchers at Japan's Kobe Gakuin University are developing a levitating chair that hovers on a small cushion of air.

The floating chair is being developed for elderly Japanese by Tsunesuke Furuta and others at the university's rehabilitation department.

The prototype, inspired by arcade air hockey, seems to consist of an air compressor that shoots jets of air out of many openings beneath a sports-style car seat on a platform.

The seat can be swapped for a zabuton , a Japanese floor cushion. When kneeling on it, users can move around by dragging themselves across the floor with their hands.

The chair can make very right turns and rotate easily, perhaps with less effort than a wheelchair. Apparently, it can float with a weight of up to 330 pounds.

The futuristic seat was demonstrated earlier this month at a robot fair held at Osaka City Hall, which has hosted a singing, fire-breathing robot in the past. Robot Laboratory, Osaka's robot promotion arm, organized the latest event.

The video shows an old man being pushed around in the chair as it floats close to the floor. Apparently it's no good on carpets and tatami mats.

Unfortunately, it can only move horizontally, not vertically. So you won't be seeing Gramps Tanaka floating out the window anytime soon.

The researchers are currently seeking business partners to develop the chair.

Via Robot.M