SOLS Adaptiv – A Wearable Soft Robot

I was hired by SOLS to help out with their Adaptiv project. The idea was to showcase the procedural modeling techniques, materials, and technologies behind their printed insoles with a futuristic robotic shoe. Jordan Dialto, the industrial design lead at SOLS, approached me in my capacity as lead scientist at Super-Releaser to make a prototype soft robot shoe that could change shape and fit in response to the wearer.

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The external shell (purple) retaining skeleton (grey) and soft actuators (teal) joined together with reference pins to be inserted into the original mesh.

The project started out with an external shell modeled by Continuum Fashion. Although the design was elegant, this posed a challenge for introducing the robotic elements and the engineered components that would stitch everything together. Since the external shell was generated in a mesh CAD program, it didn’t fit into SolidWorks’ reference frame. This meant using the mesh as a reference and generating a simplified surface to extrude the soft robot elements and retaining skeleton from.

Since the soft actuators end up being very compliant it made more sense to model them flat and stretch them around the retaining skeleton inside the shoe. This made both the modeling and fabrication simple. I printed out the skeleton sections on a Form-1 and then rolled them across a piece of paper, tracing their outlines and fastener holes. Once I scanned the paper pattern, it was easy to get the soft actuators modeled and turned into molds.

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I used a removable core process similar to some of the Glaucus prototypes to get these small, complex, airtight parts made. Once the final exterior shells were printed, it was pretty straightforward to tap the fastener holes, insert the actuators, screw on the retaining skeletons, and tighten up little cosmetic details.

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Below you can see video by RUSHdesign who built the wooden display stands and air control system that drives the actuators.

A video posted by RUSHdesign (@rushdesignnyc) on