An exoskeleton manufacturer believes that Iron Man-like inventions will become mainstream products in hardware stores in the future.
While the Iron Man technology featured in the comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) seems like a distant sci-fi dream, one exoskeleton maker hopes that similar inventions will eventually become mainstream.
According to the BBCSuitX of California believes the future will include the general distribution of exoskeleton technologies. The process has already begun, with the implementation of the equipment in various settings around the world. Founder Homayoon Kazerooni said: “I have no doubt that these devices will eventually be sold in hardware stores. As prices drop, you can just buy them at Home Depot.”
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The exoskeletons Kazerooni referred to are not as advanced as Tony Stark’s flying armor, but they make life easier nonetheless. The term also covers a broad category of devices, some include motors and hydraulics, while others simply use springs and shock absorbers. The general purpose is simply to enhance the capabilities of the user, often through the use of additional support. “We have shown that muscle activity in the back, shoulders and knees is reduced by 50%. If the muscle activity decreases, that means the risk of muscle injury is lower,” Kazerooni said.
Although in the past it was primarily devoted to military and medical uses, the technology has already begun the transition to manufacturing. Kazerooni said: “This means that factory or plant managers get more productivity, their insurance costs are lower and there are fewer workdays lost due to injuries. There are less costs and more productivity.”
While it is not as flashy as the heroic deeds performed by Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man, technology could be life altering. MyPlanet CEO Jason Cottrell commented on the technology: “Devices that support a person’s makeup as they do their jobs will fundamentally change the way industries operate.” However, for anyone wanting an exoskeleton that feels like a superpower, these devices could soon become a reality too. Cottrell stated that Delta Airlines has been working on a full-body exoskeleton, in conjunction with Sarcos Robotics, to support cargo handling and ground support personnel. The technology reportedly allows users to lift up to 90kg during eight-hour periods.
While everything proposed seemed ideal, Oxford University Professor Sandra Wachter, a senior researcher in AI, cautioned that it could open the door to some potential concerns. Many advanced exoskeletons incorporate AI, although they are not as advanced as Iron Man’s JARVIS, but such AI could also introduce new forms of workplace surveillance, with the speed and breaks of workers closely monitored and compared.
Today’s average shopper shouldn’t expect to be able to pick up an exoskeleton, as Accenture’s Adrian Spragg averaged the cost of one at “about $ 45,000.” However, as Kazerooni initially stated, prices are expected to fall and he anticipates that they will eventually enter new markets, including recreation.
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