How Exoskeletons Make Your Work Easier?
For the longest time, robotic exoskeletons were seen in sci-fi movies, but up until recently, they're now a reality. Exoskeletons are a fantastic wearable technology already being incorporated in medicine and industry.
According to the numerous tests, military applications are also possible.
This technology is fascinating. Anytime people hear about exoskeletons, they become curious and intrigued by the workings and mechanics.
They want to know more, and more than often, you'll find that one of the most common questions asked is "How do exoskeletons work?"
Well, exoskeletons are a mix of humans and machines, but with enormous benefits for humans.
Exoskeletons get their name because they're built to mirror the makeup and movement of the human body and its internal skeletal structure. It's similar to the skeletal system, except it's made from metal and worn outside the body.
What’s An Exoskeleton?
An exoskeleton is a wearable motorized machine made from metal to enhance the wearer's physical abilities. Like in the movies, an exoskeleton can multiply the wearer's strength, provide additional support and help reduce fatigue.
An exoskeleton makes it easier to lift objects and reduces the strain on the body. They can even enable a paralysis patient to stand up and walk again!
Exoskeletons are usually full bodysuits, but others are created only to be worn on specific body parts like shoulders and hands. An exoskeleton's metal frame goes around the user's body or body part.
Depending on the use, sometimes it can be made from a softer material, like unique kinds of fabric and not necessarily metal. Some even have sensors that monitor the users' movements and respond accordingly.
When it comes to powering the exoskeletons, the motorized or mechanical ones will need some energy source like a battery pack or electricity. On the other hand, some don't need any power to run, which offers the wearer more freedom.
The first reported wearable machine dates back to more than 100 years ago. In 1917, Leslie C. Kelley came up with a machine powered by a small steam engine. This machine was created to ease the stress on the body during movements such as running. It was called a "Pedomotor." It was patented, but after that, nothing came from it.
Why Do People Wear Exoskeletons?
Exoskeletons are worn to reduce the stress we put on our bodies while performing specific tasks. For instance, exoskeletons in the automotive sector help with car assembly and lifting heavy machinery.
Originally, exoskeletons were applied in the medical industry to assist in rehabilitation, but more recently, they're being used in labor-intensive sectors such as manufacturing and construction.
Exoskeletons reduce injury rates, help lift and move heavy objects, and give users a strong frame to easily handle objects and machines.
How Exoskeletons Make Work Easier
Industrial Upper Body Exoskeletons
The industrial exoskeleton sector is more active today than ever. Exoskeleton wearable to support the upper extremities is now very common in the construction and manufacturing industry.
The main benefit for industrial exoskeletons is not to give workers "strength beyond their wildest dreams" or anything of that sort but to improve workplace efficiency and prevent injuries on the job site.
The strain due to overexertion and injuries brought forth by repetitive tasks are the top most common reasons behind lost productivity in many industrial settings. Furthermore, physical stress caused by fatigue may also lead to time wastage and increase the likelihood of injuries occurring.
Industrial exoskeletons seek to lower fatigue, support joints, support muscle activity, and reduce discomfort while doing repetitive overhead work to increase occupational safety.
Industrial exoskeletons are typically made from a metal frame and wrap around the user's chest. There's also a metal rod positioned at the spine, which extends out into supports for the shoulders, arms, and hands.
These exosuits—another name for exoskeletons, are generally not powered. They provide support by using pulleys, weights to counterbalance the workload, a spring balancer, or other pure mechanical means.
They work by taking the weight off the user's arms and shoulders and transferring it to their cores. This allows the wearers to have increased endurance during demanding tasks and other overhead work.
Since these wearables aren't powered by anything and provide support without the wearer interacting with them as much, sometimes they're called passive exoskeletons.
Lower Body Exoskeletons
Lower body exoskeletons are mainly used for locomotion assistance and gait training. They're often used in physical therapy setups to help patients learn to walk again to improve their overall ability to walk.
One significant application for these exoskeletons is for use with patients who suffer from paraplegia due to spinal cord injury.
They've usually powered exoskeletons so that they can help patients carry their weight and begin walking again. Motor support can differ from patience-initiated movement to full assistance help or even additional resistance depending on their needs.
Exoskeletons have a lot of uses. They help industrial workers reduce the strain on their joints and muscles brought on by repetitive work to make work environments much safer.
Although exoskeleton technologies are still in their early stages and cost quite a bit of money, they're worth every penny for the future. Industries that deal with heavy machinery should try as much as possible to incorporate them into their work.