A new exosuit has been developed, and this time its focus is to improve the future of working environments, for both men and women. The point of the wearable suit is to lessen back pain by offering support to tired out muscles.
Engineers from Vanderbilt University developed and built the exosuit, and their study was published in Scientific Reports on Tuesday.
The suit is able to lower muscle fatigue by around 29 to 47 percent.
Bend and lift without issue
This particular exosuit could revolutionize the way certain industry workers feel. For instance, those working in the medical field or frontline workers who stand for long hours and have to hold things up. However, it could also greatly serve anyone who sits at a desk and has to regularly get up and move around, or pick up objects.
The Vanderbilt team, led by Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Karl Zelik, used surface electromyography techniques to measure changes in lower back muscle fatigue, and asked participants to carry out certain physical tasks with and without the exosuit.
What's great about this suit is that it doesn't require a motor or batteries to function. It simply relies on low-profile, elastic assistive forces that work hand in hand with lower back muscles. The elastics funtion similarly to our latissimus dorsi muscles (or 'lats'), which take over once our back muscles are too tired to function properly.
"When a person’s low back muscles become over-strained and fatigued, they summon extra assistance from their lats to relieve this back strain and fatigue. The elastic bands in our exosuit work the same way to help sustain endurance and strength," explained Erik Lamers, lead author of the study and post-grad from Vanderbilt University.
A stand-out point about this particular exosuit is that it takes into account the differences between male and female bodies. As Zelik said "One of the critical challenges moving forward will be to ensure that all wearable technology is developed to serve and protect both women and men."
Organizations and universities create exosuits and exoskeletons to assist different groups of people looking to achieve different outcomes. For instance, the elderly in Japan, or those working with proper and regular heavy lifting.
You can take a look below at exactly how this exosuit functions and why the team decided to take on this project:
The team has already commercialized its exosuit, and it looks fantastic once its been vamped up, not to mention its inspiring name, HeroWear: