Let's play a quick game of word association. Your first word is exosuit. If you are a nerd like me, then the image of Iron Man immediately appeared in your brain. His iconic suit is the perfect union of technology and art, and has been the inspiration for many of our attempts at a real-world exosuit. But researchers at Harvard are hypothesizing that spandex may be a more suitable material than iron as they work to bring the exosuit from the realm of fantasy into reality.
According to Kendra Pierre-Louis for Popular Science: "To see if spandex exosuits could give users a boost, researchers strapped seven subjects into the fancy workout gear—what they call functional apparel.
'These are textile components that allow us to anchor the wearer and attach components comfortably and securely to the human body,' said study author Conor Walsh, a researcher at Harvard University’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The researchers attached these fabric components to the ankle and calf to apply force and assist with plantar flexion or bending, and to the hip to help with hip flexion. Once they anchored the body, they attached a cable connected to a pulley motor. The cable spans across the ankle joint to the back of the calf and 'shoots' energy into the ankle, boosting the walker's natural gait."