At DECA we love to think of our products in broader terms than simply wire harnesses or cable assemblies. We tend to think of them as a your final product’s central nervous system. While we build harnesses for many different purposes, the field of wearable technology is interesting and exciting. What would it be like if some of the stuff we see on WestWorld became real?
The rapidly developing field of wearable robots or exoskeletons is providing new ways for that to actually happen. Wearable robotics are becoming more and more common for both civilian and military purposes. Robotic devices are used to:
support workers doing repetitive tasks and alleviate physical stress
give soldiers enhanced endurance and strength
allow those disabled by injury or disease to perform common functions such as walking, climbing stairs and other elements of ADL
aid physical rehabilitation after surgery or injury
There are many robotics research projects around the world. One project, American Bionics, boldly proclaims that wheelchairs will be obsolete by 2035. Today’s these exoskeletons may have have sensors and wifi, but wire harnesses still play a vital role in their operation by:
providing power to exoskeleton components
managing hydraulic joints
monitoring sensors that track the force applied by the wearer
controlling motors that move joints and produce motion
channeling data from sensors going to wifi/bluetooth transmission points.
While these capabilities are exciting, some are also concerned about:
this technology being used to track activity and productivity, particularly in industrial settings
the real cost and accessibility of these high tech wonders; a full-body exoskeleton can cost $40,000+
Many of these devices have typically been made with a hard frame and motor gear mechanisms. These are referred to as HWR (short for hard wearable robots) in addition to the better known term: exoskeletons. As technology continues to evolve, a new term is gaining attention: Suit or soft wearable robotics, aka SWR. These devices, are composed of softer materials, (including flexible PCBs) and are lighter, but they are less powerful. SWRs are made with shape-memory-alloy (SMA)-based fabric muscle (SFM) activated with a small motor or pneumatics.
Do you have a wearable robotics project? Whether you need a prototype for your wearable’s nervous system or have a full production you need manufactured, we love working on projects like this.
Call us: 419-884-0071
Want to learn more about robotics? Check out some of these links: