Lightweight, efficient, and nonrestrictive, the proposed suit will be made from soft wearable assistive devices that integrate several Wyss technologies including stretchable sensors that monitor the body’s biomechanics.
A $2.6 million contract from the Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency (DARPA) to the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired
Engineering at Harvard University will enable bioengineers to develop a smart
suit that helps improve physical endurance for soldiers in the field.
The novel wearable system would potentially delay the onset of
fatigue, enabling soldiers to walk longer distances, and also potentially
improve the body’s resistance to injuries when carrying heavy loads.
Conor Walsh, assistant professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering
at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Core
Faculty Member at the Wyss, will lead this interdisciplinary program.
Walsh’s collaborators include Rob Wood, Gordon McKay Professor
of Electrical Engineering at SEAS and Core Faculty Member at Wyss; Yong-Lae
Park, Wyss Development Fellow; and George Whitesides, Woodford L. and Ann A.
Flowers University Professor at Harvard University and Core Faculty Member at
Lightweight, efficient, and nonrestrictive, the proposed suit
will be made from soft wearable assistive devices that integrate several novel
technologies already developed at the Wyss Institute. One is a stretchable
sensor that would monitor the body’s biomechanics without the need for the
typical rigid components that often interfere with motion.
The system could potentially detect the onset of fatigue.
Additionally, one of the technologies in the suit may help the wearer maintain
balance by providing low-level mechanical vibrations that boost the body’s
The new smart suit will be designed to overcome several of the
problems typically associated with current wearable systems, including their
large power requirements and rigid overall structures, which restrict normal
movement and can be uncomfortable.
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.
Source: Harvard University