Last month passed away exoskeleton technology pioneer Joseph Zawaideh. He was the Co-Founder and the Vice President of Marketing & Business Development of Levitate Technologies. While Joseph was not a close personal friend with anyone at the Exoskeleton Report, we shared an unshakable belief that occupational exoskeletons can make the life of workers all around the globe safer and easier. I will always remember Joseph as the one person who could out-talk me on the topic of exoskeletons! As an example, our last online meeting was scheduled for 30 minutes, but we ended up talking for two and a half hours (x5 times), never deviating from the topic of physical augmentation.
I first met Joseph in person at WearRAcon 18 in March 2018. Out of nowhere, he walked up and whispered if Tri and I wanted to see the AIRFRAME®. At the time, companies were just starting to transition to being more open about their exoskeletons, so not everything was on public display the way it is today. We walked into a side conference room, and Joseph was beyond excited to explain all the features and innovations that have been lovingly included in the product. For the next five years, he continued to be a pioneer and facilitator for early adopters of occupational exoskeletons.
Joseph believed that American workers could go about their day with less fatigue and be able to retire with fewer injuries to their bodies. He was particularly proud of the adoption of exoskeletons at some Toyota plants, specifically in the welding and welding checks stations. Joseph was ecstatic when it was shared at ErgoX 22 that over 80% of welders at Toyota voluntarily use shoulder support exoskeletons (the rationalization being that those are tasks that require working at or above chest level for up to four minutes at a time with little movement of the arms up and down, making it a good fit for shoulder support wearables).
Joseph’s last initiative was to simplify the adoption of exoskeletons by transitioning from multiple pieces that would have to be purchased separately to one single item that can be adjusted on the work floor. He broke boundaries and introduced exoskeleton technology to over a hundred large manufacturers and distributors all around the world. His optimism and unshakable belief in making the world a better place will be sorely missed.
“My deepest condolences to the Levitate family. Joseph was an amazing, warm person whose caring and empathy for workers was unparalleled. His unwavering belief in exoskeleton technology will protect the safety of workers for years to come.”
“Words cannot do justice to all that Joseph has done to build the exoskeleton industry and help people in his life and career as an exoskeleton pioneer. This is sad news. He was my friend. I feel lucky to have known him since 2016, and to have worked with him over the years. I will miss seeing his name appear on my cell phone, and the often hours long phone calls we’d have talking shop, sharing stories, providing updates, and catching up on life. I will miss spending time with him at conferences, hanging out at the Levitate booths, watching him help so many people discover exoskeletons for the first time, touching lives with his infectious smile and humble, soft spoken enthusiasm for his work. My heart goes out to his family, friends, and the team at Levitate. My thoughts are with you. May Joseph rest in peace. He will truly be missed.”
Obituary: Zayed Yousef Zawaideh, Sep 1, 1972 – Feb 2, 2023, Dignity Memorial, link
Featured image (top) Joseph Zawaideh via LinkedIn 2023.