According to science and technology website Inverse, suits that provide enhanced strength and support to their wearers’ bodies have experienced tremendous development in recent years. Since 2014, “wearable exoskeletons” have moved from research and development stages to both testing and even public use.
The FDA has already approved of several exoskeletons designed to help those with an injured spinal cord or patients who have suffered from a stroke. Exoskeleton suits designed to make physically demanding jobs easier have even received FDA approval.
But while these early exoskeleton suits are often too expensive or too uncomfortable to use, researchers at Vanderbilt’s Center for Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology are working on a “clothing-like exoskeleton” that has often been nicknamed a “supersuit.”
“It consists of a vest and shorts made of common clothing materials, plus assistive fabric elastic bands and a switch that lets the wearer turn the suit’s assistance on or off,” Vanderbilt Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Karl Zelik wrote for Inverse. The suits, Zelik argues, could possibly reduce the number of physical injuries due to lower back pain drastically.
“My hope is that 30 years from now—by the time my children are my age—performance-enhancing supersuits will be as common and mundane in society as smartphones are today,” he wrote.