Innovation of the week
A soft robotic exosuit “could help athletes run faster and farther” than ever before, said George Dvorsky in Gizmodo.com. Researchers at Harvard have designed a lightweight, wearable device that instantly improves athletic performance. The textile-based design contains flexible wires that “perform the function of a second set of hip extensor muscles, applying force to the legs with each stride.” In tests, the exosuit has been shown to reduce the metabolic cost of running by 5.4 percent. In practical terms, that means making a 26.2-mile marathon feel more like 24.9 miles, or improving a runner’s pace from 9 minutes 14 seconds per mile to 8 minutes 49 seconds without extra training. Right now, the prototype device has to be plugged in to work, meaning it can only be used on a treadmill. But once it becomes portable, it could help athletes smash existing records.