For your body, growing old can be an unforgiving process.
You can spend every single weekend exercising, but your body will eventually break down. As we age, we’re at risk of losing much of our muscle mass and strength to conditions like sarcopenia, which can rob its victims of their mobility.
No one wants to be the hobbled elderly person struggling to get around. And by living a healthy lifestyle and taking care of your body, you can stave off the decay for a time. When that fails, there’s a new wearable primed to give the elderly a new lease on life: Superflex’s Aura Powered Suit.
It’s a super-powered, lightweight under-wearable, designed to be worn in direct contact with the body beneath normal clothing. The suit features hexagonal pods in clusters around essential muscle groups, which house hardware components like motors, batteries and control boards. The pods are attached to “fabric origami fold-ins” that enable 3D movement, permitting the hardware within them to expand, contract and move with the wearer.
Superflex has a pedigree. And this the tech was originally developed at SRI International for a DARPA-funded program aimed to enhance soldier endurance while carrying heavy loads. This is, quite literally, a super-soldier suit developed for the US government (if you’re unlearned in acronym-speak, DARPA stands for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).
Once the research team behind the project realized the powered clothing could have a huge range of applications beyond outfitting super-soldiers, Superflex spun out as a standalone company and recently received $9.6 million in a Series A round of funding.
But the Aura is designed for an older crowd are less intent on lifting superhuman loads and busier fighting the battle against their aging bodies for a decent standard of living. It’s specifically designed to provide “core wellness support” to its wearer’s torso, hips, and legs to give an extra boost to the muscles while performing basic (but essential) actions like getting up, sitting down, or staying upright.
While meant to be worn under the clothes, the design is sleek and modern, not a far cry from the popular athleisure looks that fill gyms and yoga studios.
That eye for style is thanks to Yves Béhar and fuseproject, a tech-forward San Francisco design agency. But the aesthetic is important for more than just style points, according to Béhar. In a statement provided to Mashable, the designer explained:
The design and style framework we are building stands apart from the typical aesthetic for the aging market marked by a clinical and “sickroom aesthetic”. Instead of the design and aesthetic framework of products for the aging market that is stigmatizing and reinforces increased marginalization, the materials and design details of the Superflex design are about comfort, performance and style.
he Aura, which has a tentative consumer release date of mid-2018, will debut as part of the London Design Museum’s upcoming exhibition NEW OLD, a showcase that “explores the potential for design to enhance the experience of our later lives.”
“We believe that we are on the cusp of liberating a generation from a fate that consigned its predecessors to a life of diminishing expectations,” said Béhar.