The Wearable Robotics Association and Ekso Bionics are going to present a special lunch seminar titled “Testing Wearable Robots.” This event will take place Tuesday, October 4th, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (PST) at the Ekso Bionics HQ in Richmond, CA.
Testing wearable robots is a very interesting subject. Any exoskeleton manufacturer can claim a very diverse list of capabilities for their wearables. Normally, if a company exaggerates the capabilities of their product, it will be quickly punished by the consumers who purchased it. However, the exoskeleton industry is still minuscule, and bloated device capabilities can cause relatively more damage. For example, a company could secure funding for a device that realistically can’t provide the promised performance, edging out a product that would have been successful. Alternatively, exoskeletons that don’t live up to the hype generated by their company (or distributor) of origin can cast a shadow over all wearable robotics products. For more, see Business Importance Of Exoskeleton Independent Testing, Feb 2016.
If you think that exoskeleton testing is easy or not worth considering, then you are quite wrong. Because the wearable robots have to interact with their human operators, collected data quickly transforms from objective to subjective. To make matters worse, dissecting who said what is next to impossible. Here is an example from just a few days ago:
To bionic suits, logistics workers say thanks but no thanks – Nikkei Asian Review
In the above article, the author claims that three powered Japanese exoskeletons were tested at a shipping facility operated by Nippon Express and 70% of the workers disliked the devices. Which devices were tested, which ones were liked the most or the least, how were they used, what was the training program… There are no details given! The article, however, is easily Google searchable and will stay as a stain on the entire exoskeleton industry. To make matters worse, because there are no models or companies listed, if you are a business, there is no way of knowing if your workers are getting one of these three “disliked” models or not.
Update, September 28, 2016:
Nikkei Asian Review (NAR) Editorial Team: “Excuse us but we do not provide information other than stated in our articles.”
Testing wearable robots is a serious topic, and the presenters that Ekso Bionics and the Wearable Robotics Association have lined up are two of the best. Presenting at the October Lunch and Learn are:
- Kurt Amundson, Ph.D., Sr. Director, Ekso Health and Labs and
- Katherine Strausser, Ph.D., Sr. Controls Engineer, Ekso Health and Labs
Ekso Health and Labs is the research wing of Ekso Bionics. Under Dr. Kurt Amundson’s leadership, the company has created prototypes for military, healthcare and industrial use all under the same roof. Some have argued that Kurt is the hidden weapon of Ekso Bionics and his ever growing list of exoskeleton related patents seems to support the claim.
For more information on the Testing Wearable Robots Lunch & Learn
- Visit the WearRA website: http://www.wearablerobotics.com/lunch-learn/
- Register at Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lunch-learn-testing-wearable-robots-tickets-27444355807
To bionic suits, logistics workers say thanks but no thanks – Nikkei Asian Review, YOHEI MURAMATSU, Nikkei staff writer, September 20, 2016, http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Trends/To-bionic-suits-logistics-workers-say-thanks-but-no-thanks