In our previous look at wearable exoskeletons, one of them had a design feature that I overlooked, or misunderstood. The model in question is German Bionics' Apogee exoskeleton. See the yellow-rimmed cutouts in the photo below:
The company's description read:
"The Apogee exoskeleton must be extremely stable on the one hand and at the same time as light as possible in order to optimally support the user. To this end, the lightweight construction was provided with targeted cutouts to save material and thus weight."
Turns out that cutout has a secondary feature beyond material savings, at least in their new Apogee+ model:
While previous press images had shown Apogee-wearing workers lifting boxes, the new Apogee+ is targeting healthcare workers who need to move humans. "Recent research in nursing and care environments," writes German Bionics, "shows that the use of powered exoskeletons, such as the Apogee+, provides a flexible solution to reliably support and relieve healthcare professionals in their daily work with patients – in contrast to other existing but rarely used devices like hoists or fully automated approaches such as care robots."
The company says the Apogee+ is useful for:
- Lifting and moving patients
- Lifting from beds into wheelchairs and vice versa
- Helping with medical examinations
- Lifting during washing and changing
- Helping with the repositioning of immobile patients
- Providing relief when working in unergonomic, awkward postures in a bent-over position
The company also says the waterproof monocoque structure is easy to clean/disinfect.
This earlier test model didn't have the handles, but you can see how the nurse is able to perform the lifting motion despite starting from a very awkward position:
The Apogee+ offers 30kg (66 lbs) of lifting support, and the company now refers to the cutouts as "integrated patient grips."
Join over 240,000 designers who stay up-to-date with the Core77 newsletter.
Test it out; it only takes a single click to unsubscribe