Superflex: Soft Exoskeleton For Elderly That Can Be Worn Like Underwear

Photo of the back of an elderly person with wavy white hair. She is seen wearing a soft exoskeleton and holding both her arms.

One third of adults over 65 report difficulty walking three blocks. Mobility is a serious concern for the aging population which stems from the fact that other physical ailments and issues force them to stay at home, leading to loss of freedom, increased depression, and risks of getting other diseases like diabetes.

To cater to that population, SRI International is designing an exoskeleton that can be worn like an undergarment. This soft exoskeleton, weighing four pounds, wraps around the user’s core, and provides another set of mechanical muscles that can help elderly sit, stand, and even walk. An in built computer makes sure that the flexing happens along with the real muscles to supplement the energy generated by them. The first version of this suit may require it to be charged once a day.

diagram showing how super flex fits the body.  It covers the chest and torso and goes down till the knees. this photo has two bodies - one male and other female.

The “powered suit” (called Superflex) is designed not just to provide convenience but comfort as well. Rich Mahoney, the CEO, has hired a team of textile and fashion designers to ensure that this suit is worn easily, looks attractive & feels comfortable, and also lets the person use bathroom with ease.

This suit can be used not just by elderly people who complain of a sedentary lifestyle but also by people who have injuries and are in rehabilitation. Superflex is targeting to launch sometime in Mid 2018. Although there is no information on price, the company says that it will be affordable, and people interested in it wouldn’t have to depend on insurance subsidies.

Source: Fast Co Design

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