Works & Aesthetics

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Future Humans

“There is tech for tech’s sake, and then there is is tech that alters or enhances the human experience”

This week’s topic: Exoskeletons

A powered exoskeleton is a wearable mobile machine that is powered by a system of electric motors, pneumatics, levers, and hydraulics, or a combination of technologies that allow for limb movement with increased strength and endurance.

In the last few years the fields of engineering, computer science, biotechnology have increased. That lead to the start of the design and development of the future exoskeletons or else “bionic suits”.

The concept of exoskeletons has been around for decades. When people talk about a bionic suit they tend to picture an Iron Man - Tony Stark situation type of suit, however the future of exoskeletons is more modular, light wight and maybe even right in your workplace.

Performing repetitive and/or strenuous tasks can be hard on a worker's body, leading to muscle fatigue and even injury.  Exoskeletons aim to:

  • Increase human capabilities

  • Enhance our strengths

  • Diminish our weaknesses

  • Encourage positive behavior

  • Avoid injuries

  • Enhance quality of life

Exoskeletons can have medical, military, and civilian applications.

Medical

Performing repetitive and/or strenuous tasks can be hard on a worker's body, leading to muscle fatigue and even injury. Assistive exoskeletons are designed to help keep that from happening. However, exoskeletons for medical purposes are more expensive and need FDA approval. These exoskeletons can solve problems such as allowing elderly to walk for long distances without getting tired.
An example of a company working on exoskeleton devices: https://newatlas.com/comau-mate-exoskeleton/56625/

Military

This is a sensitive topic. What are the ethics behind enhancing human capabilities in the military? I guess defense?
An example of military exoskeleton use is an “extra arm” for holding heavy guns.
I recently came across an article about Russia’s future army design consisting of robot killers. Any thoughts?

Article can be found here: https://nypost.com/2018/08/28/russia-tests-iron-man-exoskeleton-armor/

Civilian

Exoskeletons are yet not mass produced and used as consumer products in the markets. There are a few challenges to overcome before reaching that step. The basic challenges are comfort, design, and economics (price is not viable for consumer applications).
However, the future of exoskeletons is based on future technology motors, batteries, and sensors. As long as motors become stronger and faster, batteries become more condensed, and sensors smaller, the future of exoskeletons might have a spot in the consumer market. The more development there is on smart devices that can help production of exoskeletons, the better performance and use the bionic suits are going to have.

To consider:

There are still many ethical loose wires that must be taken into account before getting over enthusiastic on the exoskeleton craze.