Virginia Tech helps Lowe's employees lift heavy items with ease

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) Employees at Lowe's in Christiansburg now have superpowers, or at least a new tool from Virginia Tech to help them lift heavy objects without as much strain.

It's called an exosuit. Employees there are wearing it as they do heavy lifting throughout the day.

"The first thing you'd notice when you're wearing it is how easy it is to bend over," said Tim Pote, a mechanical engineering Ph.D. student wearing the suit and demonstrating its uses.

It's the new world of super human powers. These researchers at Virginia Tech are making life so much easier for employees at Lowe's. The university paired with Lowe's Innovation Labs to create this - a suit that uses the science behind a bow and arrow to help the user spring up with little trouble.

"It offloads the weight of your torso so when you go to bend forward your back then has to lift up the weight of your torso again. Instead, the exoskeleton supports that weight lifts it up for you so your back doesn't have to do that work," said Alan Asbeck, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech overseeing the project.

Right now four suits are being used by stockroom employees at the store who are constantly bending and lifting heavy objects. So often the endless up and down gets tiring, this is expected to ease the strain allowing employees to feel better about lifting.

"We can go over there and we talk to the employees and we can get their immediate reaction while they're working we can sit there and talk to them, how's this feeling, and we're getting a lot of really good positive feedback," Pote said.

This project started last year and is just in a pilot phase now but already is getting international attention.

The company plans to look for ways to introduce this to more employees on a larger scale.