Thoughts on Industry Innovation: Wearable Construction Tech

Earlier this spring we wrote about a few new innovations in the commercial industry, some of which have been seen as threatening to current workers, who fear being replaced by a robot. But what if some of the coming technology helped rather than hurt the workers of these heavy duty industries? An article was recently published by Equipment World revealing prototypes for exoskeletons created by companies including Hyundai and Lowes. What is an exoskeleton, you might ask? (Confession: I certainly did) An exoskeleton is a wearable suit equipped with technology to assist people in lifting heavy things or performing other strenuous tasks. These technologically savvy suits do the majority of the labor for wearers, helping to prevent injury and preserve posture. Check out the video below which showcases Lowes version of an exosuit designed to assist employees in heavy lifting.

This intriguing subject of wearable construction tech was a hot topic at the past ConExpo, with talk of exoskeletons making their official debut onto job sites within the next 2-3 years, aiding in safety and productivity. However, there are some basic models available for demo and purchase right now:

  • Myo Gesture Control Armband: control technology with the movement of your arm with this sensing band which reads 5 different gestures.
  • Esko Bionics EksoZeroG: This bionic arm leverages exoskeleton technology when mounted to a secure structure to aid workers in heavy-hand tool tasks.  
  • Rise Robotics Rise ExoSUIT: This suit comes fitted like a backpack, using compressed air to drive a unique transmission called a BeltDrive to power human heavy lifting operations.
  • Vortec Personal Air Conditioning vest: this vest hooks up to a regulator that blows cool air into the vest which is perforated with small holes that distribute the cooling air around your upper torso and neck. Talk about refreshing!

This industry continues to open up it’s potential with these technological partnerships. However, these must be taken with a grain of salt as not all ideas will be able to scale into real, working improvements for all businesses. Reach out to your industry peers to find out whether this technology is set to be implemented near you. My guess is that this technology will work its way from the top down as larger corporations in major cities have generally taken the lead in testing and funding newer technology.


Sarah Gallagher

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