Virtual reality, artificial intelligence and autonomous technology—long far-fetched notions—are here, and they’re already being embedded into our daily lives. This is a preview of what’s to come—the good, the worrisome and the bizarre. Across the globe, humans are asking, what does the onslaught of intelligent technology mean for us as a society—and will it make a more positive impact than we thought? The companies building these technologies bear an extraordinary responsibility to create things and services that augment people’s lives rather than disrupt them.

Putting dishes on a high shelf or changing an overhead lightbulb occasionally might not be difficult, but could you imagine performing either of these tasks 4,600 times per day? How about 1 million times a year?

These are the approximate number of times some Ford assembly line workers lift their arms during overhead work tasks. At this rate, the possibility of fatigue or injury on the body increases significantly. But a new upper body exoskeletal tool – the result of a partnership between Ford and California-based Ekso Bionics – helps lessen the chance of injury.

Advanced technologies influence not only what we make, but how we make it. Ford assembly line workers are testing a new exoskeletal technology, called EksoVest, designed to mitigate the physical toll the vehicle assembly process can take on employees. The wearable technology is designed to support a worker’s arms while he or she is performing overhead tasks, and provides adjustable lift assistance up to 15 pounds per arm.

“Ford Pilots New Exoskeleton Technology to Help Lessen Chance of Worker Fatigue, Injury,” Ford Media, Nov. 9, 2017