Exosuits: Morphing Us into Mobility Marvels Like Iron Man

Chung-Ang University in S. Korea developed an exosuit for running and walking. The hit Marvel character Iron Man seems synonymous with science fiction, yet the world of ‘exoskeletons’ is already here. People in suits at factories doing heavy lifting now almost resemble ‘Iron Man’. They can work longer shifts and lift heavier objects than previously was achievable. Exoskeleton decreased fatigue rates of the back muscles by 86% in one study. Some exoskeletons assist a specific limb like the Iron Hand. Prof Giuk Lee from Chung-Ang University plans to revolutionize mobility by developing exoskeleton suits. His team developed a light suit to aid natural hip abduction movement, which reduces the effort undertaken by the body. The exoskeleton reduced the metabolic cost of walking by 11.6%. Stanford University students walked faster and expended less energy using one. Exoskeletons could transform experience for those with muscular atrophy, surgeries, or above the knee amputations. For sprinting assistance, a heavier exoskeleton is proposed with electrical motors attached to steel cables to mimic the running muscles. The algorithm developed to detect the correct movement worked over 99% of the time. Male runners sprinted faster and more efficiently using the suit. These pioneering experiments bring us close to an era where we may soon see exosuits widely available for various activities.