When Clothes Have Their Own Muscles

What if the clothes you wore could help you stand up out of a chair, walk down the street, or even hike a mountain? At the Arts and Healthcare Breakfast presented by the Dallas Business Council for the Arts, guests were introduced to Seismic, a company that designs apparel that is integrated with robotics.

The panel, which was moderated by Cigna’s North Texas and Oklahoma President and General Manager LaMonte Thomas, focused on how technology can be integrated with design and art.

Seismic’s market entry and strategic partnerships leader Sarah Thomas was on the panel, and described how the clothing was meant to bring together engineering and design, creating personalized clothing that can help people do what they need to do. Rather than a clunky and uncomfortable Ironman-like exoskeleton, this wearable technology is meant to be stylish and comfortable “There is a need to integrate the arts and design and beautification into anything we are creating,” she says. “If you are going to wear robotics against your body, it should be comfortable.”

The technology was originally developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, a Defense Department entity that develops innovations used by the military. Meant to enhance soldier endurance, the Menlo Park, California startup is now modifying it for civilian use.

In theory, it could reduce injury, avoid worker’s compensation claims, lost wages, and allow people to recover from injury. Thomas said the technology adds 25 percent to the person’s strength in the core, including hips, thighs, back, and abdomen. It is similar to an electric bicycle in that you have to be able to do the movement on your own, the technology just makes it easier. She sees it extending to other joints as well. “Anything that your muscles can do, our electric muscles can do,” she says.

The company is beginning with some business to business arrangements, such as allowing industrial workers to use less energy to stand for their entire shift, but they are also launching a Seattle retail location, where consumers can become a Seismic member and order their custom wearable robotics.

Customers will set personal goals when their apparel is being designed, and the full-service membership will provide a community of others using the product, tech support, laundering as well as a bevy of data on the patients movement and posture. “Think high-end tailor meets genius bar,” Thomas said.