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Wearable robots

Samsung Electronics to market wearable robot for healthcare by year-end

Hyundai and LG are also aggressively fostering their robotics businesses to drive growth

By Jun 15, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Samsung's wearable robot GEMS
Samsung's wearable robot GEMS

Samsung Electronics Co. will commercialize a wearable robot for healthcare by the end of this year as the South Korean tech giant is delving into the robotics sector as one of its key growth drivers.

According to Samsung officials on Tuesday, the company plans to unveil a wearable robot that assists users who have trouble walking, running or standing up -- and can also be used as a fitness device.

“We have already field-tested the product for the elderly people with walking disabilities in a nursing home in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province,” said a company official. “We expect to roll out the product in the market as early as this year.”

The wearable robot will likely be priced between 5 million won and 10 million won ($4,500-$8,950), but Samsung may bring the price down to make it more affordable, according to the official.

Samsung first unveiled the wearable robot, known as the gait enhancing and motivation system (GEMS), at the CES trade show in 2019. The company has developed three variations of the wearable robot: the GEMS Hip, the GEMS Knee and the GEMS Ankle.

The GEMS Hip, an exoskeleton worn on the waist, supports about 20% of the body strength when walking, allowing users to walk faster. The GEMS worn on the knee is for arthritis patients or for those in rehabilitation and designed to relieve the burden on the knee by supporting more than 30 kilograms of body weight. With the GEMS Ankle, users are able to walk 10% faster by wearing ankle support, the company said.

Samsung's wearable robot serves as a workout assistant
Samsung's wearable robot serves as a workout assistant

HOME GYM MACHINE

Samsung said the wearable robot it plans to market this year will be more like a home gym machine designed to help people work out efficiently. The wearable exoskeleton will be compatible with other Samsung gadgets such as the Galaxy Watch or smartphones.

It can also be used as a device to help the elderly with walking difficulties, Samsung said.

In September last year, Samsung said the GEMS Hip was certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), meeting the standard-setting body’s safety requirements as a personal care robot.

According to market research firm Gartner, the global wearable device market is forecast to grow to $93.9 billion in 2022 from $32.4 billion in 2018.

Other Korean companies are also jumping into the wearable robot market.

A visitor walks wearing the GEMS Hip at CES 2020.
A visitor walks wearing the GEMS Hip at CES 2020.

LG Electronics Inc. entered the robot market in 2018 by launching a series of robots that deliver food or make coffee under the Cloi brand.

The Hyundai Motor Group, which has the country’s two largest automakers Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Corp. under its wing, is also aggressive with its robotics business.

Kia plans to introduce VEX and CEX, two wearable robots the group developed in 2019, at its car manufacturing plants this year.

VEX., or Vest Exoskeleton, is an industrial robot that can reduce workers' fatigue by imitating the movement of human joints to boost load support and mobility.

The VEX is the second industrial wearable robot from Hyundai, following its Chairless Exoskeleton (CEX).

Write to Shin-Young Park at nyusos@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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