Is the ‘exosuit’ the breakthrough the wearables market has been waiting for?

Discussion
Soft Exosuit for Running from Wyss Institute Source: Vimeo
Jun 07, 2017
Matthew Stern

Researchers are still working on coming up with a wearable device that will really stick with consumers, despite the first generation of the technology hitting a wall in terms of adoption. Two new full-body, physics-leveraging wearables might point to a new direction for the technology, either for sale by retailers or for use in retail operations.

Harvard engineers are working on creating an “exosuit,” constituted in part by a pair of shorts designed to drastically increase the speed at which a wearer can finish a marathon, Engadget reports. The shorts work by reducing the “metabolic cost” of a run, and have proven to reduce the length of an average mile a wearer runs in a marathon from 9:14 minutes to 8:49 minutes.

Wearables like these could allow sporting goods brands to finally make good on the promise of offering real athletic enhancement. Athletic shoes, for instance, have long purported to offer functional advantages for players of sports, but in reality they generally just feature more cushioning or slight design tweaks.

There’s another performance-enhancing exosuit being demoed, albeit one intended to increase performance at work rather than at play.


Soft Exosuit for Running from Wyss Institute on Vimeo.

In May, Lowe’s Home Improvement staff began demoing an exosuit desgined to help them lift heavy objects without straining muscles, as reported by CNN Money. The suit, being tested by four employees in a Virginia location, uses carbon fiber shafts that flex as a wearer bends over to increase in the ease with which a wearer stands up holding a heavy object. While the next-gen capabilities of the suit are mechanical and not “wired,” Lowe’s has used a headset that monitors the brain waves of those testing it to get feedback about the user experience.

Other companies known for high-tech innovation have also been working on getting next-gen wearables to catch on where products like FitBit, Apple Watch and Google Glass either plateaued or never took off. At SXSW earlier this year, Google debuted a smart jean jacket manufactured in conjunction with Levi Strauss. The jacket allows wearers to control their headphones by tapping their sleeves.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are exosuits and other full-body wearables more likely to find a good use case among consumers or as devices used by workers? What will define what makes a successful wearable device?

Braintrust
"What about clothing that will make what you’re wearing always fit you perfectly, even if you’ve put on a few pounds?"
"An exosuit to avoid strain on back muscles when lifting would be an awesome breakthrough!"
"Wearables still have a long way to go before becoming mainstream, but that should not stop designers and tech companies from continuing to try..."

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4 Comments on "Is the ‘exosuit’ the breakthrough the wearables market has been waiting for?"


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Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

Wearables still have a long way to go before becoming mainstream, but that should not stop designers and tech companies from continuing to evolve ideas and bring them to market. Eventually they will have a breakthrough product and the industry will take off.

Art Suriano
BrainTrust

It stands to reason that technology will find its place in apparel and it’s already started. I can see many future opportunities for safety, athletics, comfort and more. Imagine the apparel with included temperature controlled technology that can keep you cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. And what about clothing that will make what you’re wearing always fit you perfectly, even if you’ve put on a few pounds?

I may be sounding like someone from a science fiction film, but technology is spreading rapidly and everywhere. That said, as the technology continues to evolve and be available to apparel consumers, it has the potential of re-inventing the garment industry. So, I see this as something exciting and worth watching.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

An exosuit to avoid strain on back muscles when lifting would be an awesome breakthrough!

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

The big market for functional wearables should be the Boomers. We don’t want to look, feel and act 60+. We want to work and play the same way we did when we were 30. A wearable that would let me spend all day on the farm or in the woodshop without aches and pains would be in my closet ASAP.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"What about clothing that will make what you’re wearing always fit you perfectly, even if you’ve put on a few pounds?"
"An exosuit to avoid strain on back muscles when lifting would be an awesome breakthrough!"
"Wearables still have a long way to go before becoming mainstream, but that should not stop designers and tech companies from continuing to try..."

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