This remarkable new exoskeleton slips on like a boot and makes your walking more efficient

The latest exoskeleton technology doesn’t need an outside power source to boost your strength. It harnesses the power of your own muscles to put a spring in your step instead. And soon baby boomers could be using it to keep hiking and jogging just a few years longer.


The new devices, described Wednesday in Nature, are still just in the prototype phase. But the researchers who created the inexpensive, easy-to-wear exoskeletons believe they could be ubiquitous in another decade. They’re quite unlike the hulking, “Iron Man”-like suits that others have created to help people walk more easily. These little braces don’t require any outside power, and they make walking 7 percent more efficient with nothing but a well-placed spring system. They can’t support someone who can’t stand on her own like a bulkier, motor-aided suit might. But for people who can walk but have difficulty doing so, the boot-like new apparatus could help create a more balanced, comfortable gait.


Just under 10 percent less energy per step doesn’t sound like much — it’s the equivalent of removing a 10-pound backpack. According to study co-author Gregory Sawicki, a biomedical engineer and locomotion physiologist in the joint NC State/University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Department of Biomedical Engineering, people using the braces don’t really notice the difference — until it’s gone.

Source: www.washingtonpost.com

See on Scoop.itCommunication design