The Fusion of Robotics and Apparel

Productivity losses and treatment costs for common musculoskeletal disorders are the most prevalent complications for today’s workers. Through the comingling of clothing and robotic technology, these issues can be decreased immensely.



Editor maxon HQ

Supportive clothing meant to sculpt your body so that it looks good has been around for a while. This has evolved into apparel that helps with relieving pressure on certain body parts, such as knees and elbows, to reduce pain while moving. The idea is that through compression, you are able to add support that can reduce muscle strain and relieve aches and pains. But these are one-size-fits-all approaches. Consider apparel that is able to analyze stresses placed on your body through work-related repeated tasks and then adjust to your specific needs to reduce wear and tear on your body.

Figure 1:  Seismic Powered Clothing fuses apparel with robotics to reduce muscle strain and fatigue

Seismic designs and manufactures apparel that is fused with robotics in a way that reduces muscle strain and fatigue by providing your core with extra power and stability (see Figure 1). During the design process, the company’s goal was to provide a product that offered an opportunity for people to perform in such a way that no one was limited by their physical capabilities alone—such as an aging workforce, a labor-intensive job, or people who are standing or kneeling for long hours. By dramatically and strategically expanding the function of clothing the company is able to expand the bounds of what is possible for individuals.

The company’s Seismic Suit is part of their Powered Clothing™ brand of apparel that incorporates their uniquely designed technology. The breadth of applications for the Seismic Suit goes far beyond pain or stress relief at work or in performing repetitive chores. The Suit is also able to provide dynamic support to assist the infirmed in holding a standing position or help them to stand or sit down. For broad wellness applications, the Seismic Suit empowers all wearers by providing core body support and strength in a discrete and fashion forward under-the-clothes form factor. When used in a workforce situation, Seismic Suits can be used fleet-wide, enhancing the capabilities of an entire group of people.

Figure 2: This illustration shows how the twisted string actuator converts rotary to linear actuation.

Unique Drive Technology

The Seismic Suit incorporates “electric muscles” called Flex-Drives™ which have been designed by the Seismic engineering team. The design of the actuator includes what is called twisted string (rotary) actuation and transmission, which means that the ability to pull on the motor shaft without causing damage is also an important feature they required (see Figure 2). The string diameter and initial length are variables that have a direct effect on the strength and speed output. Depending on the location and use of the Flex-Drive some are designed using an integrated thrust bearing.

There are five Flex-Drives used in each Suit and each Flex-Drive is designed using a single maxon DCX brushed motor with a GPX gearhead. maxon’s DCX motor was the ideal selection for the application based on its package size and performance specifications. Each Flex-Drive required a combination—depending on the drive location and use—of either low torque and high speed or high torque and low speed.

maxon’s DCX brushed motor with combined with GPX gearheads are easily configured online.

Motors and Gearheads

maxon’s DCX motors incorporate precious metal brushes and ball bearings to provide for smooth and quiet operation. The motors feature unrivaled torque density in a robust design featuring an ironless rotor to make the DCX motors a dynamic drive for a wide variety of applications across multiple industries from medical and aerospace to robotics. These DC motors are available in sizes from 6mm to 35mm and are easily configured online. Users can select from graphite and precious metal brushes, sintered and ball bearings, and from many other components and accessories. The company’s GPX series of planetary gearheads feature high power transmission within a very short design. The gearheads also offer low noise and low backlash operation to users and can be easily configured online.

Actionable Data Collection

Another key element that separates the Seismic Suit from standard compression designed clothing is intelligence. The Suit is designed to collect over 1BM of data per minute. This allows the analysis of an individual worker or patient’s movements and postures throughout the course of their day. This collected data is what helps to drive suit activation so that the apparel is able to support the individual only when they need it.

Data collected is transferred to the cloud where it can be processed to present vital ergonomic health and safety information such as frequency and timing of risky postures or movements for an entire fleet of suit wearers (see Figure 4). Furthermore, the controller continues to learn so that it can perform regular updates to improve its posture and activity recognition capabilities over time.

Figure 4: Data collection and analysis is a critical element in using the Seismic Suit to its greatest ability.


Seismic Power Clothing is designing and manufacturing next generation clothing and apparel today, including its full body hero. The company offers unique and lightweight designs for worker safety—including an entire fleet of wearers—but also for consumer wellness. In addition to their high-tech clothing design, the company provides important analysis tools and controls to continually upgrade the suit’s benefits and capabilities. The application of the latest technologies, such as maxon high precision motors and gearheads and the latest in software and analysis tools adds unmatched performance levels for their entire line.


Seismic - Powered Clothing

Seismic - Powered Clothing
Play Video