A new business called ‘SuitX’ is introducing exoskeletal outfits that help support one’s backs, shoulders, and legs. Michael McKinley, Vice President of Engineering and a company co-founder said that the exoskeletal outfits are not going to fulfill any adolescent fantasies of hulking mechanical suits, but it is enough to help people lifting boxes and spending hours bent over on a manufacturing line.
Since the company’s goal, for now, is to manufacture an exoskeleton that would help with back problems and ease the agony of carrying heavy things, SuitX launched three “industrial exoskeletons”; the $5,000 LegX for boosting leg strength, the $4,000 BackX for helping people lift bulky items and the $4,000 ShoulderX to reduce arm fatigue from working on something above your head. The exoskeletons might not be as advanced as Iron Man’s suits yet, but it is pretty costly.
Michael McKinley’s suit caused quite a ruckus when he was presenting it in the TechCrunch Robotics Conference. The 10-pound leg suit, Leg X, clomped and clicked as he walked around. Nathan Poon, a University of California graduate student who works for SuitX full-time enlightened the people in the conference about what the modules are comprised of. He said that the modules use springs and clutches to provide the boost, and the LegX gets a battery boost as well. The leg brace makes your body seem about 30 percent to 50 percent lighter. Poon said that the back brace reduces muscle exertion about 60 percent and the shoulder brace about 80 percent. He mentioned that the person using the modules would have less likelihood of injury and longer stamina.
The whole goal for the exoskeleton is to boost human power; the modules would come in handy especially in the construction industry. During the conference, McKinley tried imitating a shipyard worker installing an awkwardly low wiring harness and then a concrete worker smoothing a newly poured driveway. He said that he could squat for hours, without the traditional harness.