The video below shows the soft exosuit circa 2014 in development at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. Fast-forward a couple years and now they’re partnering with ReWalk Robotics to bring the suit to the consumer market, specifically aimed for ‘patients with limited mobility.’ In the U.S. this translates to possible assistance for as many as 400,000 multiple sclerosis patients, among other disabilities.
The soft exosuit – which is a soft wearable robot that is the first of its kind – was developed at the Wyss Institute by Walsh and his team through extensive prototyping that included the involvement of roboticists, mechanical and biomechanical engineers, apparel designers, and software engineers. Walsh’s collaborators also include Terry Ellis and Ken Holt, both faculty members at Boston University’s Department of Physical Therapy & Athletic Training.
“What makes the soft exosuit’s development so unique is the extreme multi-disciplinary nature of the work. In addition to our varied technical expertise as a team, our research with voluntary study participants has been central to our understanding of how we need to design and build these exosuits”, said Kathleen O’Donnell, who has been leading the team at the Wyss Institute with Walsh. Over the course of its development, the soft exosuit has been the catalyst for entirely new forms of functional textiles, flexible power systems and control strategies that integrate the suit and its wearer in ways that mimic the natural biomechanics of the human musculoskeletal system.
Read the full press release from The Wyss Institute.