A lightweight exoskeleton will allow the elderly to move around more easily. New Scientist heads to a Japanese laboratory to try it on for size.
I’M IN a lab in downtown Tokyo full of grinning engineering students, who are peering past PC monitors and half-completed gadgets to watch me try and lift 40 kilograms of rice. No mean feat, but luckily I am about to be given a power boost.
I shuffle between some boxes and squat down as instructed by research student Hideyuki Umehara, aware of the clutter around me as I fight for floor space with the lower half of a mannequin, an electric wheelchair and an eerily realistic robotic head. Umehara places the bag of rice onto my outstretched arms. Then he presses a switch on the rucksack-like jacket I’m wearing, my hips are propelled forward and gradually my legs straighten until I’m completely upright.
It takes a second to register….