Many people from all parts of the world have restrictions when it comes to recreational activities. There are many reasons people cannot participate in these activities, but joint issues are one of the main reasons for keeping them from enjoying these activities. Today, developing technologies in the exoskeleton field has been paving the road to creating more opportunities for those once held back. By using exoskeleton systems, individuals can now perform tasks such as walking, running, hiking, lifting, bending, and standing without the impact previously associated with these tasks. Advanced technologies use sensors and data to predict and assist users with motions giving natural rhythm to movement. These technologies are giving more people the chance to live a more fulfilling life.
While some of these exoskeleton technologies are still in the early stages of research and development, it is a growing field full of unprecedented potential. Just imagine a world where anyone could participate in vigorous activities regardless of their age or physical restrictions. Advances in recreational exoskeletons, tend to be less discussed than there counterpart systems for industrial, medical, and defense applications. However, recreational use exoskeletons are also an exciting and important field. They will give people a higher quality of life by allowing them to participate in recreational activities they would otherwise not be able to enjoy.
Leisure and recreation-based technology are not exactly at the forefront of exoskeleton research at this time, but multiple systems can and likely will be used for them. One example includes the Walking Assist by Honda. The initial aim of this exoskeleton is to help individuals in companies whose jobs include strenuous amounts of walking, but it can also be used for exercising. Having this ability to participate in activities that were previously unavailable to them, unlocks a world of potential for exercise, sight-seeing, and sports. As current pricing for these exoskeletons is one of the most significant factors keeping them from becoming a household item. It is clear that as technologies continue to advance, and research yields more cost-effective practices, we will likely see this change.
One area where recreational exoskeletons have already become commonplace is in the skiing industry. In total there are currently three companies with available exoskeletons available to skiers. Two of them, made by Ski Mojo and Againer-Ski, are more simplistic and are not powered, but instead rely on springs for reducing recoil. The obvious benefit of using springs over battery power is the weight of the exoskeleton and the ability to not need to recharge the device. The third exoskeleton for ski use is the Elevate Ski XO by ROAM Robotics. It was released in March 2018 and is the first powered exoskeleton suit built for the sole purpose of skiing. It has sensors that help engage with the intentions of the user to give maximum control.
Skiing is an excellent activity to test recreational exoskeletons due to the amounts of equipment and the lengthy process of gearing up already needed. Adding an exoskeleton to the already existing gear only affects the process slightly, but has great potential to show people the positive sides of using them.
With the rise of advanced technologies and companies accelerating the production of cost-efficient units, exoskeletons will likely be the future of recreation in fewer years than most people would think. The development of ROAM’s Elevate Ski XO is an exciting testament to subsequent years of research and dedication to the human body. An entire collection of people whose physical restrictions prevent them from enjoying the pleasures of skiing are now able to try it once again. These advancements are a landmark for research and development of exoskeletons, showing a bright and promising future.