Our team is designing an untethered, powered, upper body exoskeleton for use in the fields of rehabilitation and therapeutic application, as well as occupations requiring augmented strength. Though systems exist, past exoskeleton endeavors have led to bulky, expensive, invasive, and tethered solutions. The challenge is to build an exoskeletal system that is inexpensive, streamlined, and wireless.
Our solution is unique in that it will be a low-cost, ergonomic device actuated through sensors measuring the user’s motion. Through onboard sensing, the skeleton can provide rich data, such as range of motion for use in physical therapy. This data can be used by doctors and patients to more accurately track improvement over time. With its low cost, hospitals could employ multiple devices and aid a larger audience of patients; the devices could even be used at home for physical therapy, which would dramatically increase quality of life for patients.
Outside of physical therapy, augmented strength is applicable to physically intensive occupations, as well as search and rescue operations. Each year, thousands of workers must take leave due to injuries triggered by heavy lifting; with augmented strength, workers could avoid harmful situations.