High-tech wearables could make workplace injuries a thing of the past

Wearable exosuits do the heavy lifting for warehouse workers.

A wearable exoskeleton that makes you stronger sounds like something out of a comic book.

A man in red overalls and a yellow construction hat bends down to lift a brown cardboard box.

But there’s a Massachusetts-based startup making it real: Verve Motion is working to solve the nation’s multibillion-dollar workplace injury problem.

Verve is doing so with a battery-powered exosuit that’s lightweight and soft but strong enough to help workers avoid back injuries while lifting merchandise (injuries from overexertion make up $12.8B of America’s $58B+ workplace safety losses).

Per Forbes, Verve’s SafeLift exosuit, which looks like a backpack:

  • Offloads up to 40% of the average 50k pounds a warehouse worker lifts each day.
  • Can reduce the amount of back injuries by 65%-85%.
  • Goes on in 30 seconds, fits all body types, and has the battery capacity for 10-12 hours of work.

Warehouse picking and packing is one of the more challenging jobs to automate because of how detail-oriented it is, something Verve wants to solve by assisting humans with robotics rather than replacing them.

So far…

… so good. The company has pilot programs with chains like Wegmans and Albertsons and has raised $40m in total funding with an estimated valuation of $100m+.

So far, the company has sold 1k+ exosuits, which are being used in warehouses across 20 companies.

Each suit costs $350+ per worker, per month — a small price to pay compared to the ~$40k employers pay to cover each injury-related insurance claim.

Suit up

Exosuits have tons of exciting applications beyond helping warehouse workers (though this is top of mind during the holiday rush).

Companies are considering a variety of use cases to tap into the growing $2.1B+ exoskeleton market:

  • ReWalk Robotics makes products that help people with spinal cord injuries to stand, walk, and climb stairs.
  • HeroWear worked with the US Army to develop an exosuit that assists soldiers on the battlefield.
  • And research is underway on exoskeletons that help you run faster.

Now someone get an exosuit to Santa stat before he throws out his back going down the chimney.

Topics: Technology

Related Articles

Get the 5-minute news brief keeping 2.5M+ innovators in the loop. Always free. 100% fresh. No bullsh*t.