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May 25, 2016 AT 5:00 am

When You Want More of a Soft Robot Feel #WearableWednesday

SoftExoSuit

I thought I was having one of those déjà-vu moments when I spied this suit on Engadget, being that I recently blogged about Superflex. It turns out this soft exo-suit is a collaboration between Harvard University’s Wyss Institute and ReWalk Robotics Ltd. If ReWalk sounds familiar, it’s because they have been designing exoskeletons and are currently on their 6.0 version, which resembles a sleek Star Wars AT-AT. It’s light weight but durable, and can assist with physical therapy, as well as become an at-home solution. This new suit collaboration is completely different and designed for cases where people have some mobility and just need a light touch, like stroke or MS. You can see the belt-like construction that curls near joints. The official Wyss announcement offers more detail.

Using form-fitting, fabric-based designs that are lightweight and non-restrictive, the Wyss Institute’s soft exosuit uses compact, powerful actuators packaged in a belt to provide assistance to the wearer’s legs in a physiologically relevant manner. These enhanced movements have the potential to assist wearers in walking with greater stability and metabolic efficiency, which could prevent injury and reduce fatigue.

Not only is there excitement about the technology used here, which has resulted in new fabrics and power systems, but part of the funding has come from DARPA’s Warrior Web program. So, expect this consumer suit to not only help the many in need, but to also help bring mobility to military service-members with musculoskeletal injuries. Hopefully with the lighter materials will come a lighter price tag that will make this affordable.

Did you know that some aids rely on muscle sensors for triggering movement? It can be handy for doing multiple grabs and finger positions with a prosthetic hand, for instance. One of the more interesting sensors we carry at Adafruit is the muscle sensing Myoware. In fact, we even have a learning guide on how to use it with an eyebrow gesture to send a text. Check out ‘Sup Brows for some smart tech fun!


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