Virginia Tech and nationwide retailer Lowe’s have collaborated to develop a lift-assisting wearable exosuit, designed to increase safety for store employees as they lift products. The technology uses soft and flexible electronic elements, making the suit wearable.
Alan Asbeck, assistant professor in the department of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, with a team of eight students worked with Lowe’s Innovation Labs for this project. Lowe’s is committed to exploring opportunities to improve the workplace environment, said Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs.
The prototype has been tested at a Lowe’s store in Christiansburg, Va. According to Joe Sirico, manager at the Christiansburg store, such technologies help keep associates from becoming over-tired, which improves worker safety. The next phase of the project is to examine the physical effects of using the suits, including comfort and ease of use.
It is becoming apparent that innovations and applied developments in textiles come from nontraditional textile research powerhouses. This project is another example of the textile industry acting as a catalyst for multidisciplinary endeavors involving basic sciences, manufacturing technologies and electronics.