Wearable equipment supports human motion where and when needed

November 22, 2015

A new model of pneumatic muscle and an active type of assistive equipment incorporating this pneumatic muscle has been developed at Hiroshima University and Daiya Industry Co. Ltd., Japan. This wearable equipment, called the Unplugged Powered Suit (UPS), supports human movement without requiring any electronic devices and tanks because it employs a newly developed pneumatic muscle named Pneumatic Gel Muscle (PGM) as an actuator. The UPS improves the quality of life of not only elderly individuals but also healthy people who enjoy sports activities. The UPS will be displayed at the International Robot Exhibition 2015 in December.

To prevent injury and accidents by aging and muscle fatigue, it is important to provide with safe and easy-to-use assist devices. In traditional assistive equipment, compressors and tanks are necessary to exert sufficient power for supporting human motion. It is also expensive to maintain an assist device.

The UPS consists of three parts: PGM (drive part), pump (air pressure for flexing artificial muscle), and pipework (transmission). PGM is characterized as light and flexible, and can exert supportive power by low air pressure. The pump is equipped in the sole, and thus the driving force can be transmitted to PGM by using the human body weight. Overall, the UPS has a very simple structure, is easy to maintain, and is inexpensive.

"For example, PGM covers the articulatio coxae and the pump is equipped on the contralateral sole. This arrangement makes it possible to support human hip movement in the swing phase," said Associate Professor Yuichi Kurita at Hiroshima University.

There are two examples of UPS application. One is to decrease muscle activity during jogging, and the other is to increase the pitch speed. To decrease muscle activation during jogging, PGM in the UPS is equipped along the musculus soleus and the pump is equipped on the ipsilateral toe. To increase the pitch speed, PGM in the UPS is equipped along the greater pectoral muscle and the pump is equipped on the contralateral toe.

"The UPS is designed to support human motion where and when needed. It also does not contain any heavy devices. This means that we can customize the UPS to the user's particular needs such as muscle strength for athletes and rehabilitation. In the future, we can develop smarter assistive suits including wearable actuators and sensors by using our technique," said Dr. Kurita.
PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: You can film/photograph or try on the Unplugged Powered Suit (UPS) during the International Robot Exhibition 2015 from December 2nd to December 5th. Any reporters interested in this photo opportunity are asked to contact Norifumi Miyokawa at 'pr-research@office.hiroshima-u.ac.jp'

Hiroshima University

Related Electronic Devices Articles from Brightsurf:

'Electronic skin' promises cheap and recyclable alternative to wearable devices
Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder are developing a wearable electronic device that's 'really wearable'--a stretchy and fully-recyclable circuit board that's inspired by, and sticks onto, human skin.

Tailoring 2D materials to improve electronic and optical devices
New possibilities for future developments in electronic and optical devices have been unlocked by recent advancements in two-dimensional (2D) materials, according to Penn State researchers.

Wearable IT devices: Dyeing process gives textiles electronic properties
Whether in fitness, medicine or in the entertainment industry, IT devices worn on the body, such as smart watches, are becoming increasingly popular.

Producing technicolor through brain-like electronic devices
POSTECH Professor Junsuk Rho's team develops variable structural-color filters.

Battery life for wearable electronic devices could be improved
Researchers in WMG and the Department of Physics at the University of Warwick have found that asymmetric stresses within electrodes used in certain wearable electronic devices provides an important clue as to how to improve the durability and lifespan of these batteries.

New organic material unlocks faster and more flexible electronic devices
Mobile phones and other electronic devices made from an organic material that is thin, bendable and more powerful are now a step closer thanks to new research led by scientists at The Australian University (ANU).

'One-way' electronic devices enter the mainstream
Columbia engineers are the first to build a high-performance non-reciprocal device on a compact chip with a performance 25 times better than previous work.

A new way to cool down electronic devices, recover waste heat
Using electronic devices for too long can cause them to overheat, which might slow them down, damage their components or even make them explode or catch fire.

Generation and manipulation of spin currents for advanced electronic devices
ICN2 researchers, in the framework of the Graphene Flagship, at the UAB campus, demonstrate that spin currents can be generated and manipulated in graphene-based heterostructures at room temperature.

New heat model may help electronic devices last longer
A University of Illinois-based team of engineers has found that the model currently used to predict heat loss in a common semiconductor material does not apply in all situations.

Read More: Electronic Devices News and Electronic Devices Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.