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Communications of the ACM


Exoskeletons Today

worker wearing EksoVest lifting a box

The EksoVest supports the wearer's arms during lifting.

Credit: Ekso Bionics

Millions of people Suffer from the effects of spinal cord injuries and strokes that have left them paralyzed. Millions more suffer from back pain, which makes movement painful. Exoskeletons are helping the paralyzed to walk again, enabling soldiers to carry heavy loads, and workers to lift heavy objects with greater ease.

An exoskeleton is a mechanical device or soft material worn by a patient/operator, whose structure mirrors the skeletal structure of the operator's limbs (joints, muscles, etc.). The structure works in tandem with the person wearing it, and it is utilized to amplify their capabilities, serving as an assistive device, haptic controller, or for rehabilitation purposes, says Rian Whitton, an analyst at technology market intelligence firm ABI Research. The firm is forecasting 150,618 exoskeleton shipments in 2028 and $2.9 billion in revenue in 2028, up from $104 million in 2018.


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