Electric outfit gives your back a break
Vanderbilt University's assistant professor Karl Zelik says that he's "sick of Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne being the only ones with performance-boosting supersuits." That's why he teamed up with Ph.D. student Erik Lamers to create a mechanized undergarment. While it doesn't allow the wearer to fly or have phenomenal strength, it could very likely keep them from putting their back out.
Unveiled last week at the Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics in Brisbane, Australia, the lightweight two-part suit is made up of nylon canvas, Lycra, polyester and other materials. Two straps go down from the top section and across the back, joining up with natural rubber pieces located at the lower back and glutes in the bottom section.
Ordinarily, those straps remain loose. When the user is about to do something such as lifting, bending or even standing for a long time, however, they electronically engage them either by tapping twice on the chest section of the outfit, or by using an accompanying app. Once engaged, those straps offload stress on the lower back.
In lab tests, eight volunteers wore the suit as they leaned forward and lifted 25- and 55-pound weights (11 and 25 kg) while holding their position at 30, 60 and 90 degrees. It was found that use of the suit reduced activity in the lower back extensor muscles by an average of 15 to 45 percent for each task.
Zelik is now hoping to add sensors to the suit, which will automatically engage the straps when stress is detected in the lower back.
There's more information in the video below.
Source: Vanderbilt University