Exoskeletons play increasingly important roles in prosthetics, rehabilitation, and industrial worker augmentation and assistance. Last year FutureWise predicted exoskeletons would become a $4 billion industry by the end of 2026. In June, we wrote about Wandercraft’s Atalante clinical model exoskeleton that helps wheelchair users and patients with mobility impairment due to stroke, neurodegenerative disorders, and other health conditions to walk without crutches. We originally wrote about Ekso Bionics in 2015, focusing on its battery-powered exoskeleton for people with mobility limitations.

Last month Ekso introduced the EVO Upper Body Exoskeleton for industrial use. The EVO is an endurance-boosting assistive upper-body exoskeleton. The EVO is not designed for performance enhancement; it does notenable the wearer to lift a heavier weight or exert greater force than without enhancement. Instead, the Esko exoskeleton’s primary purpose is to reduce fatigue while performing repetitive work. According to the company news release, the EVO is light and flexible, designed for comfort and to help the wearer remain cool even when wearing the device all day. And the passive device merely augments the user’s existing strength, so no batteries or complex actuators are required.

Esko patented the EVO’s stacked link structure. The links allow the wearer’s full range of motion including relatively extreme positions such as reaching directly overhead. Different jobs call for different amounts of force, which Esko achieves by selecting compact gas springs with the appropriate force level. Depending on the user’s job, each arm can be fitted with the same or different level springs. The springs provide from 5 to 15 pounds of assistance per arm to give the wearer a boost throughout the workday.

The exoskeleton straps on with a belt, but otherwise the EVO design leaves the user’s back entirely free, with minimal touchpoints as needed to assist movement. This relatively open design allows free movement and helps the wearer stay cool.

Most often when we think of exoskeletons we envision a structure that either enables wearer movement or endows the wearer with a multiple of their natural strength. The Esko EVO supports what people can already do but helps them do it repetitively without fatigue or pain.