WIITE is a variant of the TWIICE exoskeleton that enables a person with a complete spinal cord injury to stand up, walk and, above all, go ski touring. Thanks to its compatibility with standard ski touring boots, it can be worn by the wearer and used in conjunction with mountaineering skis.
Everything you need to know about the features and benefits of the WIITE: A motorized exoskeleton for ski touring by TWIICE need to know.
WIITE is a variant of the TWIICE exoskeleton that enables a person with a complete spinal cord injury to stand up, walk and, above all, go ski touring. Thanks to its compatibility with standard ski touring boots, it can be worn by the wearer and used in conjunction with mountain skis. It allows its user to go ski touring despite a complete motor and sensory disability. Even though exoskeleton technology is cutting-edge, some limitations remain. The user must be able to control his upper body and be strong enough to balance with the crutches, and an operator must be available to assist him. The WIITE is suitable for inclines up to 40 %, but not for descents. Battery life is limited to two hours of continuous use.
The TWIICE exoskeleton can be customized to accommodate a limited range of motion or maximum speed of movement, among many other parameters. The control system requires manual input via integrated triggers in the handles of the crutch. Since this is an assistive device and not a rehabilitation exoskeleton, the intent of motion detection by the wearable device is traded off for control and predictability. As for predictability of behavior, a smartwatch is used to display status and fine-tune the exo on the fly. TWIICE has motorized joints at hip level and at the knees. The upper body, thighs and legs are supported by soft surfaces. Electric motors can be used to flex and extend the knees and hips, mimicking the movements of walking. More complex movements such as climbing stairs are also possible. The batteries, located in the back of the exoskeleton, provide the necessary energy for up to two hours of continuous walking. Spare batteries, which weigh less than one kilogram per set, can be carried in a separate backpack. A special electronic system that controls the exoskeleton's movements reliably and safely carries out the wearer's instructions. The wearer transmits the instructions to the system via a hand control. Since every disability is unique, it was important to the engineers to develop a modular aid that can be easily adapted to the respective user depending on the body shape and type of impairment.
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TWIICE, thanks to the development of a modular exoskeleton to assist walking, allows the user to regain autonomy in daily activities such as sitting and standing or walking on flat and uneven ground. The designers' intention is also to (re)return to its users some of the sensations associated with walking or simply standing. A single exoskeleton alone will not be able to meet all expectations, as each handicap is unique: there is a need to design a modular and customizable product. With a weight of 15 kg and an autonomy of 3 hours, this exoskeleton is designed to respond to different pathologies, morphologies and user experiences. Its technical design is based on the pursuit of simplicity, which gives the device robustness, reliability and lightness.
In March 2020, the TWIICE and EPFL team shared a dramatic video of a powered lower body exoskeleton being used on the scenic snowy mountain slopes of Europe (Link: Powered Exoskeleton To Enable Individuals With SCI To Go Ski Touring). TWIICE is now pleased to announce that work on the project is continuing and commercialization of the WIITE gait-assisting exoskeleton for ski touring is planned for 2022.
The WIITE-powered exoskeleton for ski touring is a technological partnership between Sonceboz, a motor manufacturer based in the Bernese Jura, which supplies high-torque, compact electric motors. The components were developed in collaboration with EPFL's REHAssist group and are used across the TWIICE family of electric exoskeletons. "Fischer Connectors, based in St-Prex and also supporting the project, has provided a customized version of the electrical connectors integrated into the exoskeleton."
Twiice has raised a total of CHF110K in 3 financing rounds. The most recent financing was raised on May 23, 2017 in a non-equity assistance round.
Twiice is funded by 3 investors. MassChallenge and Venture Kick are the latest investors.
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