The ETH team developed the Myoshirt particularly to enhance the strength and endurance of people with restricted or declining mobility, and ran a small test, placing the unit on 10 people without any physical impairments, one with muscular dystrophy, and one with a spinal cord injury.
In an endurance test, which required people to lift their arms and/or an object and hold them up, healthy subjects were able to hold the position for a third longer with the exomuscle active than without it. The results were even better for the other two; the MD patient saw an endurance boost around 60 percent, and the patient with a spinal cord injury saw an endurance leap of 300 percent.
Before it’s ready to become a commercial product, the team says it needs to be further miniaturized and streamlined to fit better under clothing, and preferably with a drop in weight – the control box and actuator motor setup currently weigh a combined 4 kg (8.8 lb) and sit on a box on a table rather than being attached to the suit. As such, it’s currently only really suitable for folk getting around in wheelchairs.