Imperial College London
SCALED is a nature-inspired solution for flexible protective wearables. Bespoke interlocking scales provide precise motion limitation for protection. A parametric algorithm precisely controls its 3D-form, for a custom-fit scale structure according to a user’s requirements. SCALED is used for injury prevention, improving rehabilitation and sports performance enhancement.
The identified core problem is located in the health care sector, specifically in the form of human joint injuries. Joint injuries, for example radius fractures, are complex and require lengthy and cost intensive rehabilitation until motion, strength and function are restored and may even result in long-term immobility. Current protective and supportive wearables constantly limit and support joints, which may result in a long-term adverse effect for users. Constant support actually leads to reduced muscle strength in crucially needed parts of the body. Therefore, the core idea of this research is to explore the potential of a protective wearable that only provides support when and where it is needed, similar to the operation of a safety net.
SCALED investigates the opportunity of a controlled motion-limiting structure to prevent hyperextension joint injuries. Prior research describes the downsides of nature-inspired scale structures, as mobility is commonly a trade-off with protection. This research investigates the possibility to regulate this restriction in motion and thereby ultimately prevent hyperextension joint injuries. Therefore, SCALED demonstrates the potential of using a parametric design algorithm to imitate nature’s evolutionary process of adapting to an individual’s needs for survival.
SCALED ultimately is using an innovative parametric algorithm to create custom-fit protective wearables, which are designed for a user’s exact needs, as type of body joint, range of motion, type of activity and body specifications. SCALED is enabling mass-customization for unique protective wearables which are morphing to demand. As a result, transforming the disadvantage of immobility in nature-inspired scale structures into a benefit of preventing hyperextension while guarantying free range of motion is the main concept.
The developed product SCALED is used for injury prevention (sports/everyday), improving rehabilitation (posture control) and performance enhancement (athletes). The issues of providing protection against collision and friction are also investigated.
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