Upper Body Exosuits
The industrial exoskeleton sector is generally the most active today since wearables for the support of upper extremities are becoming so common in the construction industry as well as manufacturing. The main goal for industrial exoskeletons isn’t to give workers “super strength” or anything of that sort but rather to prevent workplace injuries. Strain due to overexertion and injuries caused by repetitive tasks are some of the most common culprits behind lost productivity in industrial settings. Of course, physical stress caused by worker fatigue also leads to lost time and makes injuries more likely to occur. Industrial exoskeletons seek to decrease fatigue, support muscle activity, support joints, and reduce discomfort while performing repetitive overhead work to increase occupational safety.
Upper bodysuits are typically made of a metal frame that wraps around the user’s chest. A metal rod positioned at the spine branches out into supports for the shoulders, arms, and hands as well. These suits are generally not powered, meaning that they provide support using pulleys, a spring balancer, weights to counterbalance the workload, or other purely mechanical means. These systems generally take the weight off the user’s shoulders and arms and transfer it to their cores so that they have increased endurance during overhead tasks and other demanding work. Since these wearables aren’t powered and typically just provide support without the wearer having to interact much with them, each model is sometimes called a passive exoskeleton.
A great example is the EVO exoskeleton created by Ekso Bionics. This is an evolution of Ekso’s vest exoskeleton technology used by Ford and other industry leaders. This model was created using the feedback from business leaders and industrial workers to address the challenges of workers as well as possible and to prevent workplace injuries and strain. This model also allows for the full flexibility of the shoulders and waist to provide the best comfort on the market.