Robotics startup suitX is turning human laborers into bionic workers with a new modular, full-body exoskeleton that will help reduce the number of on-the-job injuries.
The flexible MAX (Modular Agile eXoskeleton) system is designed to support those body parts -- shoulders, lower back, knees -- most prone to injury during heavy physical exertion.
A spinoff of the University of California Berkeley's Robotics and Human Engineering Lab, suitX built MAX out of three units: backX, shoulderX and legX. Each can be worn independently or in any combination necessary.
"All modules intelligently engage when you need them, and don't impede you" when moving up or down stairs and ladders, driving or biking, the product page said.
Field evaluations conducted in the U.S. and Japan, as well as in laboratory settings, indicate the MAX system "reduces muscle force required to complete tasks by as much as 60 percent."
The full-body suit and its modules are aimed primarily at those working in industrial settings like construction, airport baggage handling, assembly lines, shipbuilding, warehouses, courier delivery services and factories.
The full MAX Suit (BackX, ShoulderX, LegX together) will run you $10,000; the BackX and ShoulderX are $3,000 each; and a LegX is $5,000. SuitX suggests consumers contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
The company is perhaps best known for its Phoenix exoskeleton, which enables people with mobility disorders to stand up, walk and interact with others. The lightweight device -- still in the testing phase -- carries a charge for up to four hours of constant use, or eight hours of intermittent walking.