A Robotic Exoskeleton Designed to Give the Elderly a Boost

Superflex / Superflex

In an effort to give the U.S.'s growing elderly population a boost, a California-based smart clothing company called Superflex is working on a new robotic exoskeleton designed to increase mobility.

According to The Verge, the lightweight wearable is meant to be worn under clothing and features a number of computer-controlled sensors which track the wearer's posture and movement, which are all readable via a companion mobile app. Data is then sent to the suit's motors, which can offer assistance sitting up, standing upright, and raising one's arms.

Research company SRI International initially developed the technology for the military as a way to help soldiers avoid injury while carrying heavy loads in the field. Recognizing the suit's commercial potential, they formed Superflex, a new company focused on making the technology accessible to aging consumers. (As The Verge points out, the population of Americans over 65 years old is expected to almost double in the next 30 years.) Although designed with seniors in mind, the exoskeleton could also be used by athletes, construction workers, and people with physical disabilities.

“Our origins are in robotics, our future is as an apparel company,” Superflex co-founder and CEO Rich Mahoney said in a statement. “Our powered clothing will give people the ability to move more freely, to gain strength and confidence, to be more injury-free in the workplace, to achieve higher levels of wellness and social engagement, and to stay in the home longer.”

Still in the early stages of development, the Superflex smart suit should be ready to ship to consumers in 2018.

[h/t The Verge]