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Will Iron Man Build Cities? Exoskeleton suits, IoT Connectivity, and the Future of Construction

Construction laborers put their bodies on the line to build the world around us. Possibly the most often cited OSHA safety statistic states that one out of five deaths in private industry is attributable to the construction industry. Of these deaths in 2018, 320 out of 1,008 construction workplace fatalities were related to falls.

Exosuits: From Our Imaginations to Real World Applications

Military and scientific uses of exoskeletons first imagined in science fiction and popular media such as Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and Marvel’s Iron Man inspired generations of engineers. No longer do such suits live in our imaginations alone. Spinoff technologies from suits such as NASA’s X1 robotic exoskeleton or the Soldier Assistive Bionic Exosuit for Resupply now being piloted by the 101st Airborne may soon be adapted to everyday workplace modalities as well.

Recently, innovations in exosuits have proven useful for those who suffer back pain. Emergent medical uses such as robotic prosthesis described in an article by Effort Open Reviews also speak to a promising future of human controlled wearable robotics for daily use. Grand View Research reports that the market for bionic prosthetics is expected to grow by 9.7% between its 2019 market size at $1.1 billion and its 2027 value.

Could Cellularly Connected IoT Exoskeletons Mitigate Risks and Save Lives?

Given the prevalence of falls in the construction industry, one probable use of exoskeletons would be balance detection and stabilization enhancements. Inspired by similar telematics applications for construction vehicles, connected exosuits could independently arrest falls and call for help. Fall prevention technology and uses would be complimented by location tracking for recovery. Data can be collected and transmitted real time from the suit itself back to monitoring systems to provide timely calibrations as well.

Additional IoT integrations for construction industry exoskeletons already include lumbar support and assistive lift strength. Impact detection and vitals monitoring are also feasible. IoT driven exoskeleton systems could also be directly connected to telematics and other monitoring systems along a construction company’s network. A cellularly connected exoskeleton could relay information back to worksite safety managers in real time, alert emergency responders or trigger emergency response procedures, and protect the worker from impending dangers.

How OEMs can Pave the Way for Connected Exoskeleton Suits in Construction.

Right now, OEMs can act as thought leaders by sharing lessons learned in telematics development or robotics technology with exoskeleton developers. In some cases, OEMs may even act as research and development partners for academic, government, or commercial exoskeleton projects. The potential for exoskeleton suits to integrate seamlessly via cellular connection with embedded telematics and on-site computers presents construction firms and rental companies with an interesting option for upgrading their safety capabilities.

Build the Next Evolution of Safety with Aeris

At Aeris, we are pushing the boundaries of what is possible with cellular connectivity. With a global footprint and service plans scalable for businesses large and small, we are intimately familiar with the challenges of IoT. We work with companies to find the best in-house solutions and are innovating alongside developers to continuously improve our offerings. If you’re focused on the future and the next evolution of worker safety, Aeris is here to help.

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