Category Archive : Computer Science

How Do Exoskeletons Work?

Exoskeletons tend to be the stuff of dreams, especially for fans of science fiction. There are many examples of how this device is used in fantastic settings, in some of our favorite pieces of sci-fi entertainment. In Aliens, the heroine fights a gigantic, acid-spewing Alien queen with the use of a power loader exoskeleton. In all of the Iron Man movies, Tony Stark uses a variety of exoskeleton suits to save the day. In the billion-dollar grossing Avatar movie, an amplified mobility suit/ exoskeleton is used by the bad guy mercenaries to take on the Na’vi, and of course who could forget the robotic exoskeleton that is Robocop?

Such futuristic outfits are fantastical in their idea of what exoskeletons would eventually look like, and what they might be used for. But these robots are not actually fantasy. In the current day, exoskeletons do exist and provide an important service to their users. Exoskeletons are wearable devices that work hand-in-hand with their operators. They are usually used to augment, reinforce, or restore performance for a human wearer. This is done by being placed on the body, essentially acting as an amplifier to their movements.

Where do exoskeletons come from?

These devices are often made out of metal or carbon fibers (rigid materials) or are composed of soft and elastic parts. Exoskeletons were first invented in the 1960s by General Electric, with the creation of a device called the Hardiman. The first exoskeleton was a large full-body device that was designed to augment the wearer’s strength and enable the lifting of heavy objects, whilst reducing fatigue. At the end of that same decade, gait-assistance exoskeletons were created at the Mihajlo Pupin Institute in Serbia. By the time the 1970s came around, another gait-assistance exoskeleton was created at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Since then exoskeleton innovation has hit a variety of technological heights. Towards the end of the 2010s, a variety of lightweight military exoskeleton prototypes had been developed. The goal for these was to augment a user’s strength and endurance. Post-2010, there were several gait-assistance and restoration exoskeletons that were introduced to the public. An example of this is Ekso Bionics’ various robotic exoskeleton, produced by this industry leader, based in the United States.

How does the exoskeleton work?

To answer the question of how such devices work, we must first begin by discussing the frame of an exoskeleton. Depending on what materials went into making them, they are often lightweight and allow quite a degree of freedom when it comes to movement. The frame goes around the user’s body, or part of their body, depending on the type being used. In some cases, the exoskeletons can contain sensors that are used to monitor and then respond to a person’s movements.

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What do they run on?

Exoskeletons require different types of power sources to help them operate. They can be either motorized or mechanical, while others run on electricity. Some exoskeletons don’t require any electricity and offer more freedom for a user. One useful example of seeing how these work is in the EksoUE suit. The EksoUE is an exoskeleton that assists patients who have limited mobility or limb injury in the upper body. The exoskeleton technology works with a patient’s affected shoulder and arm during his or her rehabilitation. This device is a wearable upper-extremity type of medical exoskeleton.

This device has interchangeable springs, which allows for different powered active-assisted function movement. The device’s operation is based on the patient’s strength, endurance, and the weight of their limb or extremity. This is often how most other exoskeletons work, as they are based around the user who is operating them. In the case of the EksoUE, how the exoskeleton operates is based on how the patient utilizes the device. These devices are often used for occupational or physical therapy sessions. This helps to allow for longer and more high-intensity therapy sessions and is a huge assist in increasing muscle activity, and motor functions.

How to Succeed in School the Rory Gilmore Way

If you’re looking for some fictionalized inspiration to kickstart your study habits, there’s no doubt that Rory Gilmore will be one of the first characters to come to mind. Whether you’re an avid Gilmore Girls fan or you’ve only seen GIFs of Rory and Lorelai eating junk food, absorbing all the pop culture they can get their hands on, or drinking inordinate amounts of coffee, you probably conflate “Rory Gilmore” and “book smart” in your mind. Luckily, we’ve had eight seasons of the Gilmores to inspire us. Channel your inner Rory for massive success in school!

Do the Readings, Then Read Some More

Always keep a book with you. While it won’t have the all-important book smell, you can even download the free Kindle app to your phone to have a digital library with you wherever you go. When your teacher assigns a book, read it—not the SparkNotes version. But be sure to branch out, too. If a topic comes up in class that interests you, search for book titles in that subject on Amazon or Google. And, don’t forget to have your daily dose of fiction, whether it’s a classic or a new release. Want to go all-in? Check out the Rory Gilmore Reading Challenge to read all of the titles Rory read in the series.

Caffeinate

No true Gilmore Girl would try to get through the day (or a study session) without a pick-me-up. If you don’t like coffee, opt for your favorite energizing drink instead—did you know that Alexis Bledel dislikes coffee and usually had cola in her mug?

Study, Study, Study

This one should be obvious: Rory studies like a superhuman. However, adhering to a study schedule that intense might lead to burnout, which will only detract from your goals in the long run. Check out your favorite studyblr or head to Pinterest for some inspiration to kickstart your study habits. For example, check out the Pomodoro method to prevent study fatigue. Find yourself floundering still? Look into a summer boot camp to boost your standardized test scores (to Rory-approved levels) and build better study habits.

Stock Up On Supplies

A pleasing aesthetic certainly isn’t the most important part of your study routine, but it helps keep you motivated. Color-code your notes. Make the pretty flashcards. Keep your planner updated and ready for scheduling study dates and extracurriculars. Head to your version of Doose’s Market (or, you know, Amazon) and pick up whatever pens, highlighters, notebooks, and other office supplies bring a bit of joy to your school day.

Don’t Forget the Brain Food

Any self-respecting Gilmore girl will be ready with Pop-Tarts, takeout, and whatever the daily choice is at Al’s Pancake World. Your brain needs plenty of food to fuel all that schoolwork, right? Keep a special treat on hand for your study sessions—you can even use it as one of your motivation techniques.

Dress the Part

While you’re studying and working through assignments at home, a messy bun and sweats are fine. But, when you’re actually in class, a little effort goes a long way. Not only will you make a better impression on your peers and teachers, but also you’ll feel better (and work better). Channel Rory’s schoolgirl look with petite cardigans and pleated skirts, or shop around for something that matches your personal style and helps you look like the serious student you’re becoming.

Sometimes You’ll Fall Short (and That’s Okay)

While Rory is undoubtedly the reigning queen of studying, she’s not perfect. Even fictional humans make mistakes (I mean, look at the Gilmore Girls revival…). Sometimes she gets bad grades. She makes poor decisions. She messes up, just like we all do. The most important thing is that you bounce back afterward. Even when you have a bad day, know that your hard work will pay off down the road if you keep it up.

Rory Gilmore might not be the perfect role model, but her study success can’t be beaten. Get dressed in your prep school best, learn the right study habits for you, grab some coffee and a donut, and get to work!

The future of Robotics