In my life I have gotten to know a few individuals whom some are disabled due to neuromuscular disabilities, congenital Myasthenic Syndromes, and so on.

Some of them tear up to the thought that they can’t even open a door due to their disability like this user on reddit and his heartbreaking story.

Most of the time, these disabilities result from work related injuries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2015, which occurred at a rate of 3.0 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers.

Fatal injuries? A preliminary total of 4,679 fatal work injuries were recorded where 3.3 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers in the United States in 2014

(The final 2015 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, CFOI data are scheduled for release on December 16, 2016.)

With that in mind, the new modular exoskeleton from suitX, a robotics company out of University of California, Berkeley’s Human Engineering Lab came out with the  Modular Agile eXoskeleton, MAX which helps support a person’s body parts prone to getting injured while doing heavy physical work and at the same time enhancing their abilities.

Modular Exoskeleton
The backX, part of a modular exoskeleton from a company called SuitX.

The MAX system is designed to provide a flexible exoskeleton solution that can be adapted for a variety of different workplace tasks. The result is a versatile system that can allow workers to complete shoulder, lower back, and leg intensive tasks with reduced injury risk while remaining comfortable enough to wear all day.

How the Modular Exoskeleton came about

The Modular Exoskeleton, MAX was developed through countless field evaluations conducted at construction, material handling, shipbuilding, foundry, and airport baggage handling sites in the US and Japan, as well as research in Berkeley.

The MAX won two Saint Gobain Nova Innovation Awards for its intelligent design, effectiveness, affordability, outstanding ergonomic features and ease of use.

Here’s a brief demonstration of the modular exoskeleton by suitX.

 

How does the Modular Exoskeleton Work?

The modular exoskeleton is composed of 3 modules:

  1. backX – supports the back
  2. shoulderX – supports the shoulders
  3. legX – supports the legs.

The shoulder, back and legs are where 90% of workplace injuries occur and these 3 components work on these areas by lowering the forces on different joints and muscles.

They can be worn individually or together in any combination depending on need to help with lifting, carrying, squatting, and other repetitive manual tasks.

Ascending and descending stairs and ladders, driving, and biking can be carried out with ease as the modules intelligently engage when you need them whilst leaving you completely unimpeded.

backX

The technology was developed in the lab of Dr. Homayoon Kazerooni, the founder of suitX and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley who has been working on exoskeletons for many years.

His lab recently conducted a study to find out how effective the back module really is and he and his research team found out that the backX reduced muscle activity in the lower back by 60 percent.

 

Modular Exoskeleton
TSE, in this figure, stands for Trunk Support Exoskeleton

 

According to, Dr. Homayoon Kazerooni

“We have created responsive and affordable technologies to augment workers’ strength while leaving the worker in control of the operation. MAX is designed to support workers during the repetitive tasks that most frequently cause injury. It’s not only lifting 75 pounds that can hurt your back; it is also lifting 20 pounds repeatedly throughout the day that will lead to injury.”

 

 

 

shoulderX

Here’s the shoulderX in action

 

 

legX

Here’s the legX in action

 

When will it be available?

The Medical FDA approval will be done by early 2018.

If you can’t wait that long, then you can get the workplace modular exoskeleton which is available this month.

 

Follow me on Snapchat, and I’ll keep you updated with what’s going on every now and then. 🙂

Modular Exoskeleton