Crowdfunding Spotlight: LEX Bionic Chair

By Ryan Whitwam

Take a seat... anyplace.

It can seem like there's never a chair around when you need to take a load off, but what if you could simply carry a chair around with you? That's the LEX bionic chair, an exoskeleton project that just blew through its funding goal on Kickstarter. It doesn't require any batteries or complicated electronics. You can take a seat wherever you want. You just have to be comfortable walking around with bionic legs on your butt.

The designers of LEX say it's as easy to put on as a belt. Although, I'd say it's more like putting on three belts. One strap goes around your waist, and then two more fasten around your thighs. The legs fold up to lay flat until you need to sit down, and then it's a simple matter of pulling them up to unlock before sitting down. The entire contraption weighs about a kilogram (2.2 pounds) and has a maximum load of 120 kilograms (264 pounds).

LEX consists of just two aluminum legs, and a chair traditionally has four. Luckily, as a bipedal human being, you already have two legs. Combine those with your fancy new bionic limbs, and you've got four legs for stable seating. The creators say that LEX is designed to keep your torso and legs at a 120-degree, which promotes good posture with your spine in a natural alignment. A regular chair forces you to sit at 90-degrees and can lead to slouching and back pain.

The exoskeleton can help you ward off pain even if you're not sitting. LEX also has a "load-transfer module" to take the strain off your shoulders and back if you're carrying a heavy backpack. This flexible panel loops around your backpack, transferring 50 percent of the weight to your waist for better distribution.

LEX may sound useful, but it does also look a bit goofy. And there is always the chance that a hardware crowdfunding campaign won't deliver as promised. You won't be along if you support LEX, though. Plenty of consumers are happy to fork over some cash with the promise of a December 2018 delivery.

Astride Bionix says its design is finished, but it needs to secure pre-orders through Kickstarter to meet the minimum order threshold for large-scale manufacturing. The company was initially seeking about $36,000 to fund the production of LEX, but the campaign has already more than doubled that. The rewards are listed in Singapore dollars, so conversion to USD is a smaller number. The remaining single-unit reward tier costs a little under $250 for one exoskeleton.