Bioservo develops ironhand glove for workers

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Bioservo develops ironhand glove for workers

The Ironhand glove helps to strengthen the wearer's grip, so they don't have to use as much force to perform repetitive manual tasks. Bioservo's developer, Bioservo, says it can increase hand strength by 20%.

The Swedish company describes the system as a soft exoskeleton. Exoskeletons are an external device that supports and protects the body, typically increasing strength and endurance. Most have a rigid structure, but the ironhand is soft like a regular glove.

The glove provides strength and reduces the effort needed when lifting objects, says Mikael Wester, Bioservo's marketing director. It's all in order to reduce fatigue and prevent strain injuries in the long run. The backpack houses the power pack, as well as artificial tendons that connect to the glove, the system consists of. Sensors are on each fingertip that switch on the motor when a user grabs an object. A remote control or app can be used to adjust the strength and sensitivity of the grip. Wester says that applications include assembly on the production line in the automotive industry, using tools in construction and lifting heavy objects in warehouses. The Ironhand system costs around €6,000 $7,275, which is a way for the company to assess the wearer's risk of developing strain injuries. According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, neck and upper limb disorders are the most common occupational disease in Europe, costing national economies up to 2% of their gross national product. The glove was originally designed for workers in a very different setting to the factory floor. NASA developed an early version of the technology, called Robo-Glove, to help astronauts grasp objects and carry out work in space. The Ironhand system is used for assembling parts in the automobile industry. Bioservo licensed the design in 2016 and then partnered with auto manufacturer General Motors GM to develop the glove for its workers. Stephen Krajcarski, senior manager with GM's ergonomics team, says that online supermarket Ocado wants to bring the workers into the job instead of having to conform and adapt to the job. By using tools such as the Ironhand, we are trying to mitigate any potential concerns or physical demands that may cause a medical concern for the individual operator. Krajcarski said GM has helped Bioservo to test and improve the Ironhand by piloting it in a variety of jobs at its manufacturing plants. He says that it's not suitable for all situations and that some workers have found it easy to use. The Ironhand is one of the exoskeletons that GM is looking into. The exoskeleton market will grow from $392 million in 2020 to $6.8 billion in 2030, according to market research firm ABI Research.