Commercial and educational organizations alike are pushing exoskeleton technology forward.
Ford, Hyundai, and Audi are among the manufacturers doing intensive development of technology that will allow humans to be stronger and have more endurance. Hyundai’s wearable exoskeleton can assist in physical therapy, or allow a healthy individual to lift hundreds of pounds. Audi’s titanium “Chairless Chair” is designed for jobs that involved long hours of seated work, stimulating muscle usage to fend off the serious health problems resultant from such jobs. Ford has partnered with Ekso Bionics on the EksoVest, a “lightweight and low profile” upper body exoskeleton which “elevates and supports a worker’s arms to assist them with tasks ranging from chest height to overhead.”
MIT’s “biomechatronic” device development exists at “a key transition in human history,” according to Professor Hugh Herr, head of development and a double-amputee. He and his team are creating futuristic feet and ankles that behave much more like natural limbs, by revolutionizing the way that the originals are amputated. They have had such dramatic success that patient reaction includes testimonials saying “I have my limb back, I’m healed, it’s part of me. Meanwhile, U.C. Berkley is pushing human enhancements like the “ExoHiker” and its companion the “ExoClimber,” designed to help people carry — and eventually climb with — heavy loads over long distances.
BCC Research projects a bionics market of as much as $12.1 billion by 2026, from 2016’s estimated $3.2 billion. According to BCC Research Editorial Director Kevin Fitzgerald:
Bionics is no longer a vision of the future but a reality now, and it will only get better. While it is not one of medical technologies most high profile sectors, its growth potential, technical innovation and delivery of life changing patient benefits is underpinning sustained market expansion.
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