Earlier this year, California-based suitX announced what it claimed was the world's most affordable mobility exoskeleton, the Phoenix. Designed for disabled users, it utilizes motors to move their legs for them. Now, the company has unveiled a non-motorized product that could make a lot of other peoples' lives easier – it's time to meet MAX, or the Modular Agile Exoskeleton.
MAX is mainly designed to be worn by industrial workers at places such as construction sites, factories and warehouses, mechanically supporting and augmenting their musculoskeletal system as they perform repetitive and/or strenuous tasks like squatting, bending and lifting.
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When such activities aren't being performed, the exoskeleton remains passive, letting users move about normally throughout the day.
There are actually three modules making up MAX, which can be used individually or in combination, depending on what's needed. These include backX, which reduces forces and torques on the wearer's lower back; shoulderX, which reduces forces at the shoulder and enables the wearer to perform chest-to-ceiling level tasks for longer periods of time; and legX, which supports the knee joint and quadriceps.
Although there are no motors in the system, legX does incorporate microcomputers in each leg, which communicate with each other to determine if the wearer is walking, bending, or ascending/descending stairs.
For a look at how the system works, check out the video of shoulderX below.