Bionic Tail Helps with Balance, Looking Like a Velociraptor

We’ve seen all kinds of weirdness when it comes to augmenting the human body with bionic parts, like these additional metalimb arms or these 3D printed “double hands.” But the electronic beefing up of the our natural flesh, blood, and bones has now been taken to the next level with a new artificial biomimicry tail prototype created by Japanese researchers. And no, the purpose of the tail is not to let you blend in with all those creepy robot delivery dogs.

Laughing Squid picked up on the video of the bizarre yet graceful robo-appendage, which was constructed by researchers at Keio University Graduate School of Media Design in Tokyo, Japan. According to the description beneath the YouTube video, the bionic tail’s main function is to help an individual maintain balance or receive haptic feedback; the former being a more useful function in the real world and the latter being more useful in virtual worlds.

The bionic tail works exactly as you’d expect it to: it basically provides a counterweight that can cancel out unwanted shifts in a person’s momentum. One example is provided in the video with a researcher — or perhaps just an actor, it’s hard to say — tripping and falling over some stairs headfirst. In this situation, the tail would presumably tug down on the person to help prevent the fall. The tail can also inhibit rather than aid balance and bodily control, which would be useful when it comes to something like a VR video game. ‘Cause actually feeling like you’ve been thrown in a VR Mortal Kombat game is way better than…not feeling that?

Design for the tail is inspired by a seahorse, which isn’t exactly the first tail that comes to mind when thinking about useful rear-based appendages. But according to the video, the seahorse tail design is useful because it can handle “a high amount of forces compared to [a] body’s size.” And while we’re not quite sure what that means, this Smithsonian article does note that seahorse tails are especially prehensile, meaning they’re great for grabbing onto stuff.


What do you think about this bionic tail? Would you ever dare to wear it out in public or are you OK with just falling down a lot?

Images: Yamen Saraiji

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