Exoskeletons have been in development for decades, as well as being portrayed in a variety of media. The industry has reached a point where exoskeletons are now being deployed in various contexts. The most prominent of these have been medical uses, with military and industrial use cases being less publicised, but no less effective.Indeed, Juniper’s latest research into exoskeletons
highlights that military uses will dominate this varied marketplace in the short term.
Despite differences in device capabilities and use cases, the share prices of publically-traded civilian exoskeleton companies shows that investors have historically viewed companies in a very similar light. The share prices of ReWalk and Ekso are incredibly similar, despite ReWalk’s explicit focus on medical uses and Ekso’s diversification into workplace exoskeletons.
Stock Price of Publicly-traded Exoskeleton Companies ($, ¥), January 2014-April 2017
Note: The dollar price for Rex Bionics was calculated using daily GBP-USD conversion rates. Some fluctuations may therefore reflect changes in the exchange rate rather than in the underlying stock value.
Source: Juniper Research
This differs strongly by geography. The performance of Cyberdyne and Rex Bionics are markedly different from the US vendors listed, while still offering exoskeletons for primarily medical purposes. However, the continued decline in market value of these publically traded companies may diminish prospects for further investment in exoskeletons as a whole.
The combination of long purchase cycles and a declining level of investor confidence in the American medical exoskeleton market means that pure-play exoskeleton firms are in a precarious situation. These companies have been running at a loss for several years, and so the ultimate winners in the market may not be the ones with the best products, but the ones with the deepest pockets. Multi‑sector companies with revenues in other areas can continue operations while their exoskeleton businesses sustain losses, while companies with no other revenue stream will go under, regardless of the quality of their product.