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Any ideas what this is for?
Here's a picture I found by accident while browsing flickr, I have no idea what the machine's function is or was:

WTF.jpg thumbnail   
It triggers phantasies. But perhaps it is for deep-freezing people until a cure is found for their deadly deseases.
I think that is a hyperbolic chamber (maybe a early portable version) to be used on a ship for someone that got the benz from scuba diving. Of course it could be used for other purposes Smile
I tried to read the text on the cart, it says something like "J NEW I EQUIPMENT MIL S&F...". Not enlightning. But I can't find any entrance for a human body, I think it is something else, some technical equipment that happens to look like a sitting human. As a matter of fact, I think it could be a giant valve.

But hyperbolic chamber was quite a good idea, though I browsed images on the web and the older small portable ones are simply straight tubes. I actually wonder why such an emergency equipment would force the patient to upright sitting.

Well, better forget about all this and let your phantasy flow Smile
It seems to me you would sit on the lower half and the top section would be lowered down and sealed by those handles level with the seat. I would think that was unnecessarily complicated for someone suffering from the bends, surely you want to get them re-pressurized as soon as possible and a simple horizontal cylinder would seem best for that.
Weird picture. Can be anything indeed.
I think my first idea (cryo chamber) could be true, or it is simply a prop for a movie.

But I noticed once again: It is difficult to see things as they really are as soon as they inspire your thoughts.
Oooh, I saw one of these in a random museum once. If I remember clearly, it's an early form of hyperbaric chamber. It can be used to treat bends but it could also have been used to do testing of the human body at high pressures, or for medical procedures.
Cheers bluedragontao! So, we're back to the hyperbaric chamber version!
It actually reminds me of something else.... A long time ago, I think it was a Dracula movie or something.
They explained that 'in the old times, medical science was quite crude and 'scientists' and 'docters' often operated and 'cured' on assumption.

One of those assumptions was 'What would drive a sane man mad, might drive a mad man sane'. They built some sort of chambers where they'd mess with the pressure, driving the person in the chamber bonkers. Unless offcourse he already was. ;-)

It's actually the first thing that comes to mind..