ETH Zurich’s wearable muscle increases strength and endurance

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have created a wearable synthetic muscle made of smart pulleys and textiles. It is targeted at people with restricted mobility.

Myoshirt is a soft wearable exomuscle that can increase the strength of a muscle thanks to a clever system of straps and cables, working as artificial tendons.

Developed by the researcher at ETH Zürich, the MyoShirt derives its name from myo, the greek root for “muscles,” and of course, the word shirt, suggesting the easy-to-wear nature of the device. A series of sensors embedded in the straps detect the intentional movement of the wearer, shortening a pulling cable that offers additional strength to the arm. 

Researchers tested the Myoshirt in a study with 12 participants. Among those, ten people had no physical impairment, one had muscular dystrophy, and another one had a spinal injury. The results were encouraging. Endurance of movement increased by around 30% in healthy subjects, 60% in the one with MD, and 300% in the person with a spinal injury.
The next step now consists of further tests outside the lab and miniaturization of the “computing” unit attached to the MyoShirt to make it more portable. Researchers aim to do so by focusing on single movement support for users with limited shoulder mobility.

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