Exoskeletons that give you superhuman strength sound incredibly awesome but also look incredibly awkward and bulky and uncomfortable. So what about a soft exoskeleton that you wear like a pair of pants?
Harvard researchers recently won a DARPA grant of up to $US2.9 million to develop the Soft Exosuit. So far, they have created a proof-of-concept suit that resembles black leggings, threaded with cables and attached to a bulky battery pack at the waist.
So not exactly what you'd wear to a party. But the idea behind Soft Exosuit is less about fashion and more about utility. It could, for example, be wore under pants by soldiers and first responders to give them extra strength. It could also help stroke victims walk.
The smart suit is fitted with a network of elastic sensors, a microprocessor, and cables connecting the joints. The idea is that the stretchable sensors can detect which joints are moving, and the cables can provide a little extra tug. It won't instantly turn you into Iron Man, but over long distances, it could save you quite a bit of juice. [Harvard, Wired UK]
Images via Harvard's Wyss Institute