Equipment with artificial muscles will help seniors maintain a physical routine

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Bridgestone announces plans to create a device that will reduce the impact of physical exercise, especially helping older people who want to make walking a frequent habit.

The apparatus is an endoskeleton composed of artificial pneumatic rubber muscles. Changes in air pressure inside the rubber tubes cause them to contract or expand, mimicking something close to what the organic muscle does. Interestingly, the technology uses the same materials as a tire or hose. Not so sci-fi so, eh?

The equipment, according to the company, is an evolution of other devices to aid the movement because it is not intrusive and has flexible parts. The result is that it does not take extra physical effort to make them work, unlike a common walker, for example. To perform the training exercises, the user should only attach the artificial muscles to his body, which will automatically help him walk and / or apply different loads during the walk.

The project is the result of a partnership with Professor Kenji Kawashima of the Institute of Biomaterials and Bioengineering at Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU). The fitness endoskeleton is in the prototype stage, and the group expects to perform tests throughout the year to enable it in practice.

More than the equipment itself, the initiative is interesting in proposing a commercial use of the technology very close to the day-to-day. Artificial muscles are already old-fashioned in robotics, helping to simulate natural movement, or in military applications, projects that aim to increase the physical strength of the soldier. Koichi Suzumori himself has been working on applications for robots and patients with motor disabilities since 2011, developing muscles capable of lifting up to 60 kilos.

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