New 'Smart Suit' Aims to Improve Soldier Endurance in the Field
A Harvard lab is developing smart clothing for U.S. military personnel under a $2.6 million defense contract.
CREDIT: Wyss Institute
A new "smart suit" being developed at Harvard University could allow soldiers in the field to walk longer distances and carry heavier loads.
Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering recently received a $2.6 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop the powered suit.
Researchers say the suit will be constructed using soft, wearable materials. To help reduce weight, the suit will make use of a novel stretchable sensor that will monitor the body's biomechanics without requiring the typical rigid components found in other suits and which often interfere with motion.
The suit could also include technologies that help the wearer maintain balance by providing low-level mechanical vibrations that boost the body's sensory functions.
While the DARPA project is focused on assisting and protecting soldiers in the field, the technologies being developed could have many other applications as well. For instance, similar soft-wearable devices hold the potential to increase endurance in the elderly and help improve mobility for people with physical disabilities.