The Muscle Suit Takes Human Strength to a Whole New Level

Prepare for the rise of the (relatively) low-tech exoskeleton.
Grant Currin
An agricultural worker using an exoskeleton to lift a box of produce more easily.Innophys

Are exoskeletons about to hit the mainstream? 

Two inventions on display at CES 2022 suggest the once-futuristic tech is poised to augment human bodies sooner rather than later. One of those devices is called Archellis, which means “walkable chair” in Japanese. Its designer got the idea after hearing a surgeon friend complain about how difficult it was to stand for hours while performing long operations. The other — MUSCLE SUIT Every — uses compressed air to give workers the superhuman strength they need to do their jobs without hurting their bodies.

These exoskeletons use human power

Companies and militaries across the world have been racing to create high-tech exoskeletons for decades, and they’ve come up with a range of fascinating designs. But many applications call for simpler devices. For instance, workers who spend entire shifts standing on their feet don’t need a super-suit — but millions of healthcare workers, cooks, hairdressers, security guards, and factory workers could use a little help, according to a company representative Interesting Engineering spoke to at CES 2022. A user straps the devices to their feet, calves, and thighs. In free mode, the user has full mobility and can walk like normal. When the user activates standing mode or sitting mode, the knee hinges lock in place. That makes standing or sitting practically effortless. The system doesn’t use power, and the heaviest models weigh less than 6 lb (2.7 kg). 

Japanese manufacturer Innophys used CES 2022 as an opportunity to introduce its pneumatic exoskeleton — the MUSCLE SUIT Every — to the U.S. market. A user powers device with a pump attached to the unit. That compressed air flows through a system of artificial muscles, according to the company. A system of straps and pads applies the pneumatic strength to the user’s shoulders, back, and thighs, giving them the ability to lift heavy objects much more easily. The larger version of the device weighs about eight lbs (3.8 kg) and can generate about 56 pounds of force (25.5 kgF) in addition to the force generated by the user’s own muscles. 

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