Seismic, a new clothing company, revealed its first line of what it calls “powered clothing,” aiming to help wearers with ailing muscles and joints. And it’s first product, which debuted today at TechCrunch Disrupt and will be available later this year, is underwear.
“Our first product is integrating what we call intelligent wearable strength, focused on the core,” says CEO Rich Mahoney, speaking to TechCrunch. “It symbiotically provides assistant to the hips and lower back to support mobility and posture. There are many people that can use that, but we’re really focusing on where the need is.”
Seismic was originally developed by SRI International, an R&D nonprofit known for its close ties to DARPA where Mahoney worked. Involved with DARPA’S Warrior Web program, Mahoney worked to prevent and reduce musculoskeletal injuries for soldiers in combat. These efforts focused on wearable robotics, like electric muscles.
Seismic’s clothing is made up of three layers. The first is a base layer of visible apparel meant to look like clothing. The second is a strength layer, which features robotics on the outer leg, riding up to the hip and including the lower back. These robotics are meant to replicate the functionality of muscles, tendons, and ligaments by contracting and relaxing just like ordinary muscles in order to assist motion.
The third layer is what the new company calls its intelligent layer, an Internet of Things-style device worn as an external device on the lower back. While most clothing does not require an external device, this one will provide data on movement and posture.
“Creating impactful robotic products is my passion,” Mahoney says in a press statement. “The impetus for starting Seismic was when I realized a very simple truism: no one wears robotics, everyone wears clothing.”
While Seismic is doesn’t call their clothing an exoskeleton, other companies are also turning toward robotics to empower human mobility. Lockheed Martin built its own leg-powered exoskeleton, and employees on Ford assembly lines are strapping into powered suits to help build cars. After all, technology is everywhere—why shouldn’t it be in our clothes?
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics