How Exoskeletons Impact the Workplace

The very first exoskeleton was produced in 1965 for military use. Since that time, exoskeletons have become more and more popular in the manufacturing world, supporting employees and improving the quality of their work.

Exoskeletons are, quite simply, personal assistive technologies that are designed to affect the body mechanically, reducing the load of physical work like heavy lifting, while lessening the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. Ergonomic workplace layout and design are not always possible, for example: temporary workplaces, which is where exoskeletons can help compensate.

But like all new technology, exoskeletons create the need for standards and regulations. Redistributing stress to other parts of the body can impact a workers’ health, comfort and safety. Human-centered equipment design makes exoskeletons useful and accepted in an ever-widening array of industries.

A Growing Trend

In 2018, more than 7,000 exoskeleton units were sold in manufacturing, but the potential market need is much more — at 60,000 units for all types of exoskeletons, backed by an estimated growth rate of more than 50 percent between 2019 and 2024, says Industry Today. This trend will likely grow even beyond that, due to the increasing average age of the population in industrialized countries.

While much of the work in factories has become automated, human input is still critical, and continues to form the foundation of many operations, including repetitive, value-added, precise tasks. When you consider the average worker lifts his or her arm 4,600 times a day, almost a million times a year, to perform tasks, the need for exoskeletons becomes clear.

Exoskeletons are essentially wearable robotic technologies that support workers in their jobs, providing postural support that can follow the movements of the arms without misalignment or resistance. This, in turn, can generate a 30 percent reduction in stress on the shoulder muscles. Exoskeletons can support employees in a variety of sectors, including construction, agriculture, services and automotive. 

The benefits are many: 

  • Improved workplace comfort
  • Reduced muscle fatigue
  • Improved quality of work
  • Increased productivity
  • Fewer injuries and sick days

Injury Reduction

Let’s take a look at how robotic exoskeletons, AKA exosuits, help construction workers. These light metal and graphite frames basically mimic the human skeleton. When these workers wear exoskeletons, the objects they are lifting seem lighter – in fact, nearly weightless. Exosuits can be passive, with no motors or batteries, or active, which do contain these elements to aid in lifting. 

The use of exoskeletons can reduce worker injury. Ford Motor Company, for example, adopted exoskeletons for its workforce in 2011. Since then, they have seen an 83 percent decrease in the amount of injuries reported in units that used the exoskeleton.

Ergonomics experts point out that when injuries occur, they most often impact the shoulder, which consequently suffer the highest number of injuries. On top of that, they take the longest to heal and return to full function. Shoulder surgeries are one of the most expensive orthopedic operations.

Not only do workplace injuries affect the health of employees as well as the company’s bottom line, when fewer workers are injured on the job, there is not as much need for hiring and training people who can replace those who are recuperating.

Best part is, companies can work with manufacturers to design exoskeletons that encompass features addressing their precise needs.

Where Ekso Bionics Fits In

Here at Ekso Bionics, our exoskeletons are designed to solve three main problems in the workplace. It all starts with worker fatigue, and trickles down from there. 

  • Fatigue 
  • Injury (caused by fatigue — usually shoulder, sprains, etc.)
  • Productivity (hindered by fatigue)

As you can see, fatigue is the main issue here, affecting many other challenges within the workplace. Threatening the output your company can achieve and predicated by frequent injury, fatigue must be addressed first and foremost. That’s where our exoskeletons come in.

Contact Ekso Bionics

To learn more about how exoskeleton suits from Ekso Bionics can impact your workplace for the better, contact us at 510-984-1761 or request a free demo online. 

How to Utilize Exoskeleton Robots for Industrial Applications

Exoskeletons offer a creative way to fuse robotics and humans in ways that are designed to assist the manufacturing process while at the same time protect the human body from excessive strain and fatigue. 

From industrial laundromats to factory conveyors belts, industrial exoskeletons can help workers in any field that requires working with their arms above their heads for long periods of time. What are these exoskeletons, exactly? Quite simply, they are personal assistive technologies that are designed to affect the body mechanically, reducing the load of physical work like heavy lifting, while lessening the risk of musculoskeletal disorders.

Industrial exoskeletons are those that are used for industrial applications. Industrial manufacturing tasks involve workers who move heavy items around manually in very uncomfortable ways. This can introduce long-term health risks as well as reduced output, low productivity and poor performance. Current solutions to assist with heavy lifting tasks include the use of forklifts and powered cranes that hang from the ceiling of a factory or warehouse.

Enter the human-centered exoskeleton: these are robotic suits designed to enhance normal human strength to solve many problems that come with heavy lifting, fatigue management, and physical health management. 

What Industrial Exoskeletons Do

Exoskeletons are wearable robotic suits that can benefit the entire body or just one part of the body such as the shoulders. They are designed to augment a person’s normal strength capabilities, amplifying the normal force or restoring the normal behavior and strength of the joints. Whereas prosthetics are replacements to a dysfunctional, injured or missing body part, exoskeletons are added wearable devices.

They feature different structures and may support the shoulders, waist, and upper and lower limbs for anyone subjected to repetitive tasks all day long. Lumbar exoskeletons are ideal for heavy lifting, whereas upper limb exoskeletons are ideal for providing proper support for shoulder motion, posture maintenance and efficient weight distribution.

Over recent years, exoskeletons have been proven to be extremely useful for a number of applications, such as medical, civilian and military uses to address issues such as assisted walking, skiing, and war performance enhancement. But today, exoskeleton robots are gaining traction in industries that improve human worker performance and output. 

The Components of an Exoskeleton

An exoskeleton is made up of a metallic framework for the body, as well as the actuators, a power source, and actuators for the joints and electronic devices such as controllers, drivers, and sensors for body intention and behavior, points out Control Automation.

The exoskeleton’s structure is comprised of a strong yet lightweight material, for instance, carbon fiber. High-load exoskeletons are typically made of reinforced aluminum or steel.

They feature extensive sensor suites that measure the various physical quantities on the device, which is good for controlling and automating support abilities. Exoskeletons with actuators require electronic components to control them, and these include drivers, voltage converters, and other circuits. The entire system is controlled with a microcontroller, which incidentally can also process sensor information.

The Role of Sensing Mechanisms 

Multiple sensors are present to detect human intent or joint loading on the exoskeleton so as to give enough power at the joint area. The most common sensors for exoskeletons include:

  1. Load cells: These sense the load on the joints from the weight of the limbs, along with the external load.
  2. Electromyography (EMG): These sense the human motion intent derived from muscle neurological activity.
  3. Inertial sensors: These sense the orientation of various limbs in order to provide corrective actuator control.
  4. Joint position sensors: These measure the angles between various limbs.


Because an exoskeleton is carried by the human body, it must generate enough strength at the joints to not only support the suit’s own weight, but to augment and support the wearer’s body strength. That’s why a large amount of torque has to be generated using actuators that are compact, small, lightweight and powerful in nature.

Leaders in the Industry

Companies like Ekso Bionics are leading the charge in the exoskeleton industry, making robotic suits designed for industrial applications. The goal is to provide more power and strength for cumbersome or risky physical activities while maintaining natural agility and high comfort levels, while posing the least amount of disruption or invasiveness to the human body as is possible.

Contact Ekso Bionics

To find out how industrial exoskeletons from Ekso Bionics can streamline your industrial applications, contact us at 510-984-1761 or request a free demo online. 

Exoskeleton Suit for the Disabled: Who Qualifies?

Disabilities abound in this country, impacting both physical and emotional quality of life. An estimated 2.8 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) annually, 795,000 people have a stroke, and 17,000 people suffer a spinal cord injury.  Overall, 61 million adults in the United States today are living with a physical disability. These can all result in reduced strength, endurance and ability, varying by person and injury. In any case, they are left with limited mobility.

What if there was a way to boost that lost strength, endurance and ability for the disabled to allow them to achieve feats they never thought possible? There is, and they are called exoskeletons. This emerging industry is a booming one, particularly when it comes to exoskeleton suits for the disabled. In fact, it is estimated that the robotic exoskeleton market will hit $1.8 billion by 2025, up from $68 million in 2014. Last year, 6,000 suits were sold worldwide, mainly for rehabilitation purposes. But by 2025, estimates show there will be about 2.6 million on the market.

Many forward-thinking companies are making exo suits for the disabled, and Ekso Bionics is leading the charge.

What are Exoskeletons?

These are powered, wearable robots designed to enhance the user’s strength and endurance. Long receiving attention in military-focused research, exoskeletons are now garnering more attention in the civilian world, in particular for those who have disabilities. Here at Ekso Bionics, we are experts in the development of disruptive clinical robotics to address loss of mobility and cognition, helping thousands of patients take more than 130 million Ekso-aided steps while inspiring a whole new medical device industry. The goal of exo suits for the disabled is to help people regain their full mobility.

In addition to enhancing physical movements, such robotic bodysuits are empowering to the user, restoring the dignity and freedom to those who suffer from mobility problems. The goal of exo suits for the disabled is to remove the things that cause psychological encumbrances and ultimately redignify the individual, says Futurism.

A Quick History Lesson

The very first powered exoskeletons didn’t start out as assistive devices. The first patent for this type of a product was filed by Nicholas Yagn, a Russian inventor, back in 1890. Yagn created an “apparatus for facilitating walking,” which involved long springs that would attach to each leg, primarily so that soldiers in the Russian Army would be able to run.  

Fast forward to the 1960s, and inventors started creating elaborate powered exoskeletons, a need fueled, once again, by the military. In 1965, General Electric developed a product called the Hardiman, which stood for “Human Augmentation Research and Development Investigation” and “MANipulator” combined. This machine was quite large, weighing a whopping 1,500 pounds, says The Atlantic. It was designed to amplify the strength and endurance of a human’s legs and arms, combining man and machine into one symbiotic unit. This product never made it to fruition.

It wasn’t till 2000 that powered exoskeletons transformed from dream into reality. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency funded a project that year called the Berkeley Lower-Extremity Skeleton, or BLEEX, developed by engineers at the University of California, Berkeley. It was not designed to help disabled people walk again, but rather it was designed to make carrying large loads over long distances less tiring. But this design concept propelled the exo skeleton into mainstream applications, opening the door for state-of-the-art exo suits that can help in construction, manufacturing, and even healthcare industries.

How We Are Revolutionizing The Industry

We offer a variety of revolutionary products that help people regain the use of their limbs after injury. 

  • EksoNR, designed to help patients stand and walk during rehab, is a wearable exoskeleton that provides power and support to the legs. It also promotes correct movement patterns in all phases of recovery, challenging patients as they progress on their journey towards walking on their own.  
  • EksoUE, designed to assist the impacted arm and shoulder during clinical rehabilitation, helps patients with upper-extremity weakness or paralysis. It guides them in recovering strength, range of motion, and endurance.

Overall, Ekso is offered in more than 270 centers, with programs in more than 30 countries worldwide. Our products have helped tens of thousands of patients take more than 150 million steps!

Contact Ekso Bionics

To learn more about how an exoskeleton suit for the disabled from Ekso Bionics can help you in your rehab journey, contact us at 510-984-1761 or request a free demo online. 

Exoskeleton Rehab Centers: How to Find the Right Facility

Exoskeleton rehab centers are in the infancy of their mainstream appeal. Because the technology behind them is so new and constantly evolving, it can be difficult to know how to find the right one for your needs. On top of that, you may not even really know how the technology can help you for your specific disability or need. 

Here at Ekso Bionics, we offer a wearable suit, called EksoNR, which was developed exclusively for use in rehabilitation centers and clinical settings. It is the first exoskeleton FDA-cleared to help those who have had an acquired brain injury, stroke or spinal cord injury gain back their mobility sooner, thanks to robotic-assisted guidance that ensures a proper gait. 

EksoNR is designed to progress neurorehab patients so they can walk out of the device and back into their communities. This product ensures the most natural gait, re-teaching the brain and muscles how to walk properly again. It is currently being used under the guidance of trained personnel in more than 270 rehabilitation centers around the world. Check out the link and search your location to find a center near you that offers exoskeleton rehabilitation. 

Exoskeletons: Helping People With Paralysis Walk Again

Wearable robots can help people with paralysis walk again. The use of these devices in rehab is on the rise, with benefits that are getting clearer by the day.

According to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, nearly 1 out of every 50 people in this country live with some form of paralysis, which translates to 5.4 million people. The number of people who could be candidates for exoskeletons is 300,000, a number that continues to grow by 18,000 each year.

Exoskeletons: Clinical Evidence and Application

The field of wearable robotics is booming now, even though this concept has been around for 20 years. However, in the last five to 10 years, there has been a big acceleration of research.

Robotic technology benefits stroke patients in particular. More than 70 percent of people who have a stroke never regain walking capacity. Technologies like Ekso NR are not meant to be worn out of rehab centers; rather they are designed to help train the brain and muscles to allow patients with stroke, spinal cord injury and other neurological conditions to basically retrain their bodies to walk again.

Robotic exoskeletons have been establishing themselves as a technology that gives mobility and independence—both psychological and physical—to millions of hopeful people.

Contact Ekso Bionics

Eager to learn more about the future of exoskeletons or how you can find a rehab center near you that utilizes this technology? Request a demo when you contact us today. Wondering: how do exoskeletons work? Just ask us!

What Does a Zero Gravity Tool Holder Do?

Working without the weight: this is the premise behind zero gravity tool holders. Workplace injuries are on the rise, with more than $1 billion per week spent by U.S. employers on the most disabling, non-fatal workplace injuries. In fact, the annual cost to U.S. businesses of lost-time workplace injuries is more than the gross domestic product (GDP) of 91 countries combined!

Overexertion is the #1 cause of serious or disabling workplace injuries, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the total. Construction is the most common industry to report disabling workplace injuries. Indeed, construction workers are 5x more likely to report poor health, with 20 percent  of them reporting severe pain.

With the advent of innovative exoskeleton technologies, workers can now perform heavy hand tool tasks with less fatigue, fewer workplace injuries and better quality workmanship.

For example, our EksoZeroG is a robotic, zero gravity arm able to hold heavy tools atop aerial work platforms, scissor lifts and scaffolding. It’s a spring-loaded robotic arm that is able to transfer the weight of heavy tools to its base, then into the ground. The unit has the ability to be mounted in less than one minute, making large jobs much easier and faster. It can also decrease injury and increase production.

But more than that, it eases the physical burden on construction and demolition workers so they can maneuver tools and other objects as if they are weightless.

Easing the Burden

Zero gravity arms are designed to relieve the pressure and weight load from the worker’s limb, providing physical support through an entire range of motion. Zero gravity tool balancers essentially allow tools to hang in the air wherever they are left by the worker when they remove their hand.

So how exactly does an industrial exoskeleton ease the burden on today’s construction workers and other physical laborers? A zero gravity arm can:

  • Reduce worker fatigue
  • Increase productivity
  • Decrease workplace injury
  • Increase worker retention
  • Decrease employee time off due to injury
  • Maintain an ergonomic work environment
  • Reduce musculoskeletal disorders arising from the use of heavy hand tools
  • Minimize the amount of force needed to activate trigger devices.
  • Easy to use
  • Can prevent tools from being loaded incorrectly
  • Can prevent tangling
  • Compatible with tools weighing up to 42 lbs

Practical Support 

Zero gravity support offers workers an environment where they will encounter a tool exactly where it had been discarded, each and every time. No searching around, no wasted time. With no gravitational force acting on the tool, it will be inert when not being manipulated by a human operator. 

Rather than fruitlessly searching for a tool in a rack system or on a table top, the worker will intuitively know where those tools are. That’s because they will be hanging suspended from the zero gravity tool holder or balancer, exactly where they had been left. Zero gravity systems can eliminate many small tasks, such as when a worker:

  • Sets a tool down on a tabletop
  • Encloses a tool in a protective case, or wraps it with cloth
  • Balances a tool on its side, top or bottom
  • Brings a tool near a surface in a workspace
  • Implements an additional range of motion while the tool is in hand

As you can see, the benefits to zero gravity arms are many. This is the future of work: fewer injuries on the job and higher levels of productivity. 

Contact Ekso Bionics

Here at Ekso Bionics, we’re in the business of making things easier for workers and their employers. Reduce workplace incidents, increase productivity and lower worker fatigue with EksoZeroG, an innovative robotic arm that holds heavy tools on aerial work platforms and scaffolding. Learn more about it when you call us or request a free demo.

What is an Exoskeleton Suit?

When you think of “exoskeleton,” your mind may jump to images of Iron Man, and really, the imagery isn’t far off at all. But while exoskeletons can provide some level of robotic strength, they don’t provide the users with quite the powers of the popular Marvel hero. 

It’s becoming a booming industry, seemingly overnight, particularly when it comes to exosuits worn within the construction industry. Experts predict the robotic exoskeleton market will hit $1.8 billion by 2025, a rise from $68 million in 2014. Last year, 6,000 suits were sold worldwide, mainly for rehabilitation purposes. But by 2025, estimates show there will be about 2.6 million on the market.

A number of companies are making exoskeleton suits for construction and manufacturing use, and Ekso Bionics is one of them. 

The Basics

Quite simply, an exoskeleton suit is a wearable device that works in tandem with the user. The opposite example would be an autonomous robot that works independently of the user. Designed to enhance, amplify or restore human performance, such a suit is worn on the user’s body. 

Every exoskeleton suits is different. Some are made from rigid materials such as carbon fiber or metal, while others are made from soft and elastic parts. Suits can either be powered and equipped with electronics and sensors, or they can be mechanical and passive. They may cover the entire body, or just the lower or upper extremities, or a specific body part such as the shoulder, hip or ankle.

Exoskeletons involve the application of robotics and bio-mechatronics designed to augment and assist humans in the performance of tasks.

Exoskeleton suits are manufactured by exoskeleton companies like Ekso Bionics.

Multiplying Strength

The metal frameworks of exosuits are fitted with motorized or mechanical muscles to multiply the user’s strength, basically mirroring the wearer’s internal skeletal structure. Exoskeleton suits make objects feel lighter – even weightless sometimes – which reduces injuries and improves compliance in a variety of industries. 

They first came on the scene after being developed for the military, but have since made the shift from military and healthcare into manufacturing.  Construction and agriculture industries are also incorporating exoskeletons where workers are known to carry and transfer very heavy loads while moving in a repetitive manner. 

It was about 2015 when exosuits finally made their way into mainstream industrial applications. This is when Ekso Bionics announced its expansion into the construction industry and related industries with the Ekso Works Industrial Exoskeleton. The suit empowers the user to lift power tools as if they were weightless. 

But Ekso Bionics was around long before that. As pioneers in bionic technology since 2005, Ekso has been at the leading edge of exo technology every step of the way when it comes to creating and improving wearable technology to augment human potential.

Reducing Injury

Exoskeleton suits are designed primarily to combat fatigue in the workplace, at least in industrial applications such as construction. In 2019, the most common cause for workplace injuries was extreme fatigue and overexertion, with 20 percent of construction workers reporting severe pain. In fact, construction workers are 5x more likely to report poor health. 

Exosuits like EVO and EksoZeroG were developed to address these unique challenges. For instance, the next evolution of EksoVest, is a durable, naturally-tracking, and assistive exoskeleton vest. Designed to alleviate the burden of repetitive work, EVO is an endurance-boosting assistive upper body exoskeleton which helps construction and other workers better manage overhead work. It reduces fatigue and shoulder and back muscle strain, as well as reduces work-related injuries to the neck, shoulder, and back. 

Workers who wear these and other suits are at a reduced risk of severe injuries from accidents or overwork.  Construction workers in particular have the most overexertion injuries, with the highest rates of musculoskeletal disorders per capita, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The types of injuries they sustain reduce the number of years they can do their jobs and many of them even lead to permanent injury.

From arm support limbs to full body suits, the exoskeleton industry is proving to be extremely beneficial to many industries looking to reduce injury and ensure happier, healthier workers.

Contact Ekso Bionics

To learn more about how exoskeleton suits from Ekso Bionics can benefit you, contact us at 510-984-1761 or request a free demo online.