Levitating chair shuffles the elderly around like air hockey pucks

Researchers at Japan's Kobe Gakuin University are taking a cue from Wall-E with their levitating chair, which shuffles around its occupant on a bed of high-powered air jets. The concept works almost exactly like an air hockey table, with a series of air compressors mounted to the bottom of the chair.

As it stands (or floats), the chair has a lot of problems. It wouldn't work on rugs or the tatami mats they have in Japan, for instance, and its ground clearance doesn't give it too many options when it comes to uneven terrain. Still, the chair is just a prototype and the researchers are looking for investors — so maybe they have some grander designs.

There's another version, too, that's very Japanese: the chair is replaced by a tatami mat and riders move by using their hands on the ground to slide the unit around.

Check it out in action in the video below.

Robot.M, via Crave