Elderly people, care-home and manual workers expected to benefit as sci-fi-style device is launched commercially
With a bend of the knees and a hiss of compressed air being pumped into his “muscles”, Hiroshi Kobayashi lifts two 10kg (22lb) sacks of rice with as much ease as if they had been regular-size bags of sugar.
Kobayashi is cheating, but with honourable intentions. Almost three decades after Sigourney Weaver’s power loader made short work of heavy lifting in Aliens, he is the brains behind a new generation of “muscle suits” specially designed for Japan’s rising number of elderly citizens, and their care workers. “The idea is to help people live independently and self-sufficiently,” said Kobayashi, a professor at Tokyo University of Science who has been perfecting the prototype device for more than a decade.