The world’s aging population is “poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century,” according to the United Nations. The number of people aged 60 years or over is expected to more than double by 2050, the U.N. says.
One potential complication is mobility, but a new kind of wearable technology is designed to help. A “super suit” designed by Seismic, Menlo Park, Calif., works with the wearer’s muscles to boost their power and, therefore, increase mobility and strength using the company’s Powered Clothing™ design.
According to an article on bbc.com, the lightweight, comfortable suit uses electric “muscles” that mimic the human body’s own muscle behavior, contracting in a similar fashion. The suit’s muscles are integrated into the clothing around the joints of the body and attached via grips in the clothing that function like tendons in the human body. Sensors track body movements and the software utilized tells the muscles in the clothing when to activate. The hard technology components such as motors, batteries and control boards are incorporated into hexagonal low-profile pods in the garment.
Rich Mahoney, founder and CEO of Seismic, says that some people prefer to limit going out because they require some kind of aid to be mobile, such as a cane or walker. The Seismic product is meant to encourage people to resume more normal activities and to support their ability to do so, but more discreetly. To keep the clothing looking sleek, Seismic worked with designer Yves Béhar. “The goal is to make a product that you actually want to wear, not one that you have to wear,” says Béhar.
Seismic will launch the suit, which is the first in its planned line of wearables, later this year in the U.S., Japan and the U.K. Research to develop products for other physical conditions, such as muscular dystrophy or for use in industrial safety applications, continues.