Is this what they have in mind?

It may not quite be the Batsuit, but Harvard engineers are working on a “novel wearable system” that could prolong the physical endurance of soldiers in the field. As the beneficiaries of a Wayne Industries-sized $2.6 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the university’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering has been charged with developing a smart suit that improves the body’s resistance to injuries while delaying the onset of fatigue. Lightweight, efficient, and nonrestrictive, the proposed suit will comprise soft, wearable assistive devices that integrate several Wyss Institute technologies, including a stretchable sensor that monitors the body’s biomechanics without the need for rigid, motion-restricting components.

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Conor Walsh, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, will lead an interdisciplinary team that includes Rob Wood, a professor of electrical engineering; Yong-Lae Park, a Technology Development Fellow at Wyss; and chemistry professor George Whitesides.

A similar device could increase stamina in the elderly or increase the mobility of people with physical disabilities.

Walsh’s group will have to overcome several problems associated with current wearable systems, including their large power requirements and unyielding overall structures. The future suit may not give soldiers Batman-like abilities, but efficient actuation and joint support could allow them to walk longer distances and sustain heavy loads.

Although DARPA’s project is focused on assisting members of the infantry, the technologies being developed could have non-military applications, as well. A similar device has the potential to increase stamina in the elderly, for instance, or increase the mobility of people with physical disabilities.

+ Press Release

+ Harvard University

[Via PhysOrg]