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Smart pants!

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British scientists at the University of Bristol are developing smart trousers that can help people stand up, take the stairs, and get around without a wheelchair. Using technologies that imitate muscle and bone movement, these robotic pants are made of soft graphene, which toughens in contact with heat to provide support to the knees and ankles, and contain a plastic bubble that can be quickly inflated to act as artificial muscle for bionic strength. Easy to slip on and off, the pants will also be able to feed back information to a monitoring system and the patient’s doctor on the user’s health and movement. “We wanted to use this power to get people out and about, out of their living room chairs into the kitchen to make a cup of tea,” Professor Jonathan Rossiter from the Bristol Robotics Laboratory at Bristol University told participants at The British Science Festival. “If you can do that and help people to stay as independent for as long as possible, you increase their functional capability and cognitive capability; it reduces the load on the state and the care system. Our dream is to make these devices ubiquitous so that in six or seven years’ time, anyone can go into Boots and buy a pair of trousers off the shelf and they would help you move around.” The pants are expected to hit the market within the decade.

Photo: iStock
Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
November 2018