A mobile exoskeleton that aims to help to improve endurance, safety, and experience for skiers and snowboarders has been launched by Roam Robotics.
The device targets the 16m US adults currently engaged in snow sports, inclusive of the millions of adults age 45 and older that will benefit the most from the support provided, especially those with knee or muscle fatigue issues.
This is the company’s first product and promises to extend a ski day, access longer challenging terrain, make stronger turns, or simply enjoy the sport without the pain. All the while keeping your knees safer.
The product is comprised of two braces that are strapped to the user’s thighs and connected to the ski boots. The skier also wears a small backpack that carries the power source and device controls. In total, it weighs only a few pounds.
Within the braces are fabric actuators that have been constrained to create the necessary shape to support the individual action of the skier when needed. They essentially act as intelligent shock absorbers. Notably, the product only provides support when needed, and is otherwise passive and unobtrusive.
The physics behind human motion is very complicated but the concepts are simple – power is good and weight is bad. Roam said that its unique style of actuator allows for more power into the body for less weight than any system developed to date, enabling high-end performance benefits.
CEO and Founder of Roam Robotics said: “Historically, exoskeletons have been large, bulky, and expensive. By creating a product essentially out of fabric and air, we can disrupt the relationship between weight and power, creating a lightweight device that can provide significant support to a wide spectrum of skiers.”
This technical approach also means the product is significantly less expensive than traditional exoskeletons, said Roam. The hardware is powered by software that uses machine learning to identify the behaviours of the user in real time to create a seamless application of power. The experience provided by this unique lightweight hardware and AI-powered software allows the device to respond how you expect; intuitively responding to the specific needs of the skier, balancing weight and power.
Chief Business Officer at Roam Nikhil Dhongade said: “In the short term, we are helping people push their personal boundaries while skiing or snowboarding. This is true for people that have knee issues or muscle fatigue, or for anyone that simply wants to improve endurance and augment the experience. In the long term, Roam wishes to develop powered devices to meet the needs of consumer applications where the body places limits on the experience”
To date, Roam has tested their skiing product on a wide variety of users, ranging from to middle-age part-time skiers to former Olympic skiers to younger skiers.