We had to make an exception. We don’t normally feature crowd-funded wearables on Health Tech Insider. As a rule we prefer to cover technology available today or under development in university labs or by established medical/wellness enterprises. We don’t deny that each year crowd-funding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo help hundreds if not thousands of companies bring their products to market. Just because products-to-be and their marketing campaigns pass through crowd-funding site filters, however, that’s not a guarantee the devices will ever see the light of day. So we avoid writing about crowd-funded tech developments. Usually. But not this time.C-EXO Skeleton Technology’s E-Knee Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign is a Kickstarter Staff Pick. With 22 days left in the campaign, the E-Knee has received nearly $100,000 in pledges, ten times the company’s goal. The E-Knee is a smart knee brace. The E-Knee is not a medical device, but its purpose is to stabilize knee joints. The small exoskeleton supports and protects the patella, meniscus, and ligaments by automatically adjusting when the wearer runs, walks, or rests.The company customizes each E-Knee accommodate each user’s needs and measurements. Integrated ARM processing chips, motion sensors, gyroscopes, and 5 air bags work in concert in real-time. The ARM central processing unit receives data from the gyroscopes and motion sensors. The CPU then adjusts the air bags’ pressurization based on a unique algorithm. The E-Knee construction of breathable fabric holds a gel pad directly over the patella. Five air pipes radiate from the device’s central control box to inflate or deflate the airbags. The result is dynamic support that apparently changes in response to motion and conditions, which could be an improvement of the traditional static braces.According to the crowd-funding campaign, a fully-charged E-Knee has up to 35-hour battery life. You can charge the battery with an included USB-A charging cable or a standard wireless charger. The product spec sheet states charging takes 24 minutes.Most exoskeletons cost in the range of thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. The E-Knee isn’t a medical device nor a full exoskeleton, but the list price is only $253 including the E-Knee, charging cable, and carrying pouch. C-EXO Skeleton Technology expects to begin shipping the E-Knee in June 2021. There are pledge perks for backers during the Kickstarter campaign: the current Super Early Bird level pledge of $129 promises a complete single E-Knee package. When the project ends the team states it will send each backer a survey to collect size data before they ship your E-Knee.The E-Knee is not a full walking support system exoskeleton. However, knee injuries are so common for athletes and even casual exercisers that this wearable, even at its regular price without a Kickstarter pledge savings, could potentially help many people. Enough that the E-Knee led us to break our rules.
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