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Second Wind Exo Skeleton Walking Aid
For all the miracles of modern medicine, immortality remains an elusive prize by rich and poor alike. The majority of humanity now enjoy lifespans many times that of centuries past...but with that extra time comes the likelihood of suffering age-related illnesses.
Some of the today's greatest medical successes include the Poleric Hybridized Heart (Poleric Medical), TransOrganic Systems (Anterriak BioMed) and the VitasTM “magic bullet” pill which has brought healthy living to the poorest among us. However, in a world where the quality of one's life is oftentimes measured by one's mobility, no invention has been celebrated for its impact on so many lives as the “Second Wind” Exo-Skeleton Walking Aid (Anterriak BioMed).
The Second Wind is an externally worn “cage” of titanium and current-generation carbon fiber tubes fitted with microservos. These mechanisms allow for adjustments to the fiber length (ie- sheathing effect) and closely mimic the natural movements of the wearer. Second Wind is especially effective for those with bone diseases and cannot for any reason undergo the treatments to strengthen them. The device amplifies the nerve impulses to the region and react accordingly according to intent.
Fall Detection Software (FADES) can detect a sudden shift in the center of gravity (indicating a fall), seize control of the system and place/lock the legs into the optimal position to prevent the fall from happening.
Some have complained of the indignities suffered not only by having a heart attack or stroke, but to be kept propped-up for all to see at their moment of supreme weakness when FADES is activated. There is ample evidence this posture actually reduces response times by drawing attention to the situation and speeding medical aid to the victim. What price vanity? A class action suit designed to extract funds from Anterriak BioMed was easily turned away as dozens of survivor witnesses took the stand. However, Anterriak did allow for a dongle installation (software) that would let the user manually turn FADES on or off. Turning off voids all warranties and absolves Anterriak BioMed of all consequences therein. Aside from a small rechargeable battery pack worn around the waist, Second Wind has a low-visibility design. Such attention to the desires of the appearance conscious elderly has helped drive sales quarter after quarter.
As popularity of the Second Wind grew, hobbyists began to meddle with both the hardware and software of the technology. An athletic variant (with more sensitive gyroscopic controls and beefed-up speed output) proved too enticing for some individuals... The underground culture of Speed Phreaking was born.
Speed Phreaking is the amateur modification of the Second Wind. The published goal of this phenomenon is “...to move man as fast as possible on his own two feet...” “Phreakers,” as they were known, preferred the athletic model of the Second Wind for the additional stresses they could withstand (and the fine control offered by the additional 15,000 sensor motors). Speed Phreaking took a dramatically risky turn as enthusiasts sought to break land vehicle (non-jet) speed records using their highly illegal, dangerously unstable Second Wind units. Software overrides also diminished the effectiveness of the FADES system. To the further detriment of the wearer, safety motors (and their connected tubing) were removed to save weight and prevent accidental lock-up.
Conglomerate law enforcement largely ignored the Menial's gambling sport of choice (and blatant disregard for their own livelihood). Such activities were viewed as an entertaining microeconomy that would steer them clear of important Conglomerate affairs. This changed when a rash of robberies in the Junction Levels (multiple levels separating the Upper City from the Lower Levels) identified the perpetrators using high-spec Second Wind units as their tools of choice.
Anterriak BioMed responded by eliminating the athlete model of the Second Wind. Anti-tampering safeguards against software and hardware modifications were also introduced, including a master code given to all Security Agent SEDATR units. The code would immediately activate the FADES system regardless of the user's position in space. In the absence of FADES (where removed for weight savings), the primary gyros would be shut down. Crimes involving the Second Wind units vanished just as quickly as they had appeared.