When it comes to exoskeletons, many will think of Ripley’s power loader in Aliens. While that kind of machine is still a little way off, what it did get right is that exoskeletons will be used to help with work and here’s an early example from Dutch firm Laevo. I chat with Boudewijn Wisse from Laevo and I get to have a go myself.
Demonstrated at the Wearable Technology Show, the Laevo exoskeleton is for people who have to bend over or squat repeatedly and helps the wearer stand up. It’s not a powered exoskeleton and the additional assistance comes through a clever spring mechanism which stores energy when crouching down and then releases it to help the wearer stand up.
The picture on the left shows the Laevo exoskeleton and when worn, the chest pads push the body upright, reducing the strain on the back and consequent back pain. This potentially reduces the load on the back by up to 50%.
I tried on the exoskeleton at WTS2018. Fortunately there are no pictures, but I could very much feel the effect with only minimal adjustment. Admittedly it doesn’t look sleek and sexy but if I was picking up goods in a warehouse or working in a field, I’m not sure I’d be that bothered how it looks.
The Laevo exoskeleton is available now – expect to pay around 3,000 euros.