Japanese manufacturer develops ‘wearable chair’ for surgeons

Japanese mold manufacturer Nitto will next spring release a wearable chair that can help surgeons when they are performing long surgeries.

The wearable chair, called the Archelis, which costs about 300,000 yen ($2,664), has received 1,000 inquiries from hospitals and wholesalers. The company hopes to start selling it in the U.S. and China in 2019.

Yokohama-based Nitto decided to release the product after extensive market research and continual improvements. The Archelis is specifically targeted for surgeons in Japan.

It straps onto the wearer’s legs and buttocks, letting them stand and walk normally, but providing support so they can also sit wherever they want.

With a cushion pressing on the shin and thigh, the weight is dispersed in the direction of the shins and thigh to stabilize the body. The user can also walk freely while wearing the Archelis.

Because the Archelis is not an electric device, it does not interfere with wireless devices at hospitals. The positions of thigh and shin are adjustable. The chair is 78cm tall, 40cm wide and 30cm deep, and weighs 5kg.

A company representative said the Archelis is specifically designed for doctors who perform laparoscopic, or minimally invasive, surgery, which puts less strain on patients than conventional abdominal surgery. But laparoscopic surgery puts more strain on surgeons, as their duration — often five to six hours — is much longer than with conventional surgery.

Surgeons have to stand for hours during long operations, as operating tables are normally set high. Nitto aims to sell the product to about 100,000 such surgeons, such as neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons.

Nitto partnered with Chiba University’s Center for Frontier Medical Engineering to develop technology to process equipment to fit human bodies.

The company improved on a prototype it developed in 2015 to make it easier for users to change sitting positions manually. Stretchy belts provide a better fit when moving.

Nitto hopes that the Archelis will be used by those who have physically demanding jobs such as care facilities and manufacturing plants, with sales target of 10,000 units.

Inquiries about the chair have come from more than 20 countries, including the U.S. and China. The company hopes to pitch the Archelis to trading houses and other companies, in expectation of demand at factories and construction sites.

Nitto manufactures various products such as autoparts and office furniture, generating 650 million yen in sales in the fiscal year through May.

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