Stand for Hours with an Exoskeleton [video]

Exoskeleton technology primarily supports three purposes: mobility, enhancement, and protection. In addition to exoskeletons that support and assist quadriplegics, for example, we’ve also written about a smart exoskeleton that assists arm rehab, devices that help workers lift without tiring, and a design that helps prevent back pain. We recently discovered the Archelis exoskeleton, a technology for the workplace that supports employees and professionals who stand for long time periods while working.Yokohama-based Archelis focused originally on the plight of surgeons who often stand for hours during surgical procedures. According to CEO Hideyuki Fujisawa, the tech can also minimize fatigue and reduce pain for cooks, factory workers, security guards, and anyone else who spends most of their working hours on their feet. The Archelis exoskeleton consists of two separate pieces, one for each leg. To use the device, you step into a flat foot piece and secure the Archelis with one section that wraps around your upper thigh and a second section that wraps around just below the knee. When you have secured both sides, the exoskeleton supports and disperses your weight to your upper thighs and shins. The effect of wearing Archelis, according to company materials, is similar to sitting back while standing with the lower part of your butt supported by the mechanical device. Without having experienced the Archelis exoskeleton, it’s impossible to know how it feels. In images and video of physicians and factory workers wearing the device and moving around their respective workplaces they look as if they are indeed half sitting and half standing. None of the examples depict fast movement, which might be awkward wearing the exoskeleton. The device does not support the lower back, so you’re on your own for that. Archelis does state that alleviating the stress of standing for long periods also lessens lower back strain.In trying to imagine what using the Archelis exoskeleton feels like, I realized that writers and others who traditionally spend the bulk of their working time sitting might also benefit from the device. I spend about 80% of my time sitting and the rest of the time standing at my sit-stand desk. Perhaps a more fully-articulated Archelis-inspired design could function in a full range from sitting to standing with mid-range gradients to support the users’ legs, butt, and back. If you hear of such a design, please let us know. We’d love to test it.

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