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Wearable Technologies: Exoskeletons for Workers Special Issue

Wearable Technologies Journal Exoskeleton Report Featured

Wearable Technologies is a new open-access journal from Cambridge University Press. It is the first journal dedicated to publishing original research, review articles, and industrial developments related to wearable devices. The focus of this journal is on the design, control, and mechanics of wearable technologies. Topics include (but are not limited to) exoskeletons, exosuits, prosthetics, intelligent orthotics, soft wearable robotics, development of new wearable sensor technologies and wearable monitors, mechatronics, human-computer interaction, human in the loop optimization, and physical human-robot interactive controllers.

The editorial team has created a new forum for researchers to collaborate and share ideas centered around wearable technologies, led by Professor Sunil Agrawal, Columbia University, USA.

Some of Wearable Technologies‘ most popular articles include:

Special note should be given to the paper Occupational exoskeletons: A roadmap toward large-scale adoption. Methodology and challenges of bringing exoskeletons to workplaces which is now available to read, free of charge, in the journal. Published in Sept 2021, the authors reinforce that large-scale adoption of occupational exoskeletons will only happen if clear evidence of their effectiveness is presented using product-specific field studies. The paper is careful to separate in-lab studies from those executed in the less predictable and dynamic real-world scenarios. The paper tabulates the rapid increase in lab studies for both upper and lower limb exoskeletons over the last 15 years and compares and contrasts them to the limited number of field studies. The imbalance is significant, sometimes in a 10:1 ratio in favor of lab studies. In the second half, the paper switches gears to tabulate and highlight each stakeholder that is responsible for the successful adoption of an exoskeleton at a work site.

The above-mentioned paper was also presented at WearRAcon Europe 21 during the session on exoskeleton research by one of the paper’s authors, Prof. Dr. Simona Crea, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Italy. Prof. Crea emphasized the views expressed in the paper that a lack of clear information to communicate with all the stakeholders in the adoption process of this technology limits wide-scale adoption of occupational exoskeletons. Different stakeholders have different interests and need different types of information to build their opinion on occupational exoskeletons. It is important to differentiate between an end-user (like a worker) vs. a decision-maker, EH&S, manufacturing engineers, ergonomists, unions, workers associations, corporate management, and stakeholders like insurance companies, certifying bodies, standards bodies and policymakers, and regulators. The presentation was concluded with an emphasis that it is also becoming important to move the exo technology evaluation out of the lab and to in-field assessment.

The journal also features several special issues on topics that are trending in the field. The most recent special issue is on Exoskeletons for Workers. This thematic collection aims to inspire and stimulate research in the domain of wearable robots for worker support and to foster collaborative discussion between academic, industrial, and clinical sectors via contributions from experts across multiple disciplines – including robotics, biomechanics, informatics, and more.

Beth Heppenstall
Beth Heppenstall

Beth Heppenstall is the Commissioning Editor at Cambridge University Press responsible for Wearable Technologies. The current editorial team is posted on the journal’s website and includes numerous notable specialists in the exoskeleton industry such as Professor Tom Sugar  (Arizona State University, and WearRA), Doctor Jose Pons (Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, editor or Wearable Robotics ©2008 amongst many other works), Assistant Professor Elliott J Rouse (University of Michigan) and many others.

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