This exoskeletal outfit gives you superhuman strength, for a price

Say goodbye to back pain, tired arms, and fatigued leg muscles – startup company SuitX promises to take away some of the strains caused by lifting heavy packages with their exoskeletal outfits which can boost your back, legs, and shoulders.

Although the suit won’t make your Iron Man dreams come true just yet, it can still help a lot of people, especially those working in the manufacturing industry and others whose jobs require heavy manual labor. The exoskeletal suits are a welcome innovation not just because they help ease workloads but also because they were meant to assist humans with their work, not completely replace them like most robots being invented today.

The U.S.-based Venture Capitalist offers three types of outfits with different modules: the BackX is sold for $4,000 and is used for carrying or lifting heavy items; the ShoulderX costs $4,000 and is used for reducing arm fatigue from working on something above your head. Lastly, the LegX is sold for $5,000 and is used for boosting leg strength.

According to Nathan Poon, a member of the SuitX team, “The modules use springs and clutches to provide the boost, and the LegX gets a battery boost as well.” To prove the products’ efficacy, SuitX co-founder, Michael McKinley tried on the LegX module at the TechCrunch robotics conference.

McKinley showed how the exoskeletal outfit immediately stiffens with a click once the user bends his/her knee. He commented, “I could squat for hours.”

Each exoskeletal suit works by making your body feel lighter and the task at hand seem easier. The back brace can reduce muscle exertion by about 60 percent while the shoulder brace can reduce it by about 80 percent. Meanwhile, the leg brace makes it seem like your body is 30 to 50 percent lighter.

“You have less likelihood of injury and longer stamina,” Poon shared. The products were designed to be worn either individually or combined. (Read: DARPA developing mechanically augmented ‘super soldiers’ using motorized exoskeletons.)

So far, SuitX main customers are those in the field of manufacturing, aerospace, and logistics. In fact, big automakers Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler have both given the SuitX a try.

SuitX for paralyzed people

Besides helping manual workers with their jobs, SuitX has also been working on developing an exoskeletal outfit that can help people who can no longer walk. In fact, the company have introduced the Phoenix device and has undergone clinical trials with real-life people suffering from paralysis.

Paul Campbell was one of the lucky people who has tried the device and succeeded in walking again. He suffered from a spinal cord injury eight years ago and was told by doctors that his chances of walking again was only at three percent.

However, at the SXSW conference, he was able to stand on his two feet again and take small steps.

SuitX CEO, Homayoon Kazerooni, said, “I’ve seen this thing many times, but I still lose my concentration when I see someone walking with one of our devices.” He added that the Phoenix weighs around 13 kg but Campbell cannot feel that heaviness.

Dr. Juan Latorre, medical director of spinal cord injury & amputee programs at St. David’s Rehabilitation Hospital was happy and excited about the technology, saying robotic exoskeletons offer an improvement over traditional orthotic devices.

Latorre expressed his hopes that such technology will be readily available not just in rehabilitation centers but also in communities.

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