A Device That Makes Running Faster and Easier
Men reduced the energy cost of their running by about 8 percent when they wore the new contraption.
A newly invented wearable device could provide support, succor and an unexpected boost in speed to runners who might otherwise not be able to keep up with their training partners or former selves, as well as people who might like to try running but fear it is just too hard.
The device, a kind of lightweight harness worn around the midsection and legs, can increase someone's running efficiency by about 8 percent or more, according to a new study, making running feel much easier and also raising interesting questions about whether and how we should augment natural human abilities.
In recent years, biomechanics labs around the world have been experimenting with various devices meant to ease the difficulties of moving for both people and their silicon counterparts, robots. Because walking is such a fundamental form of movement for independence and health, most of this past research has been directed toward that activity.
The research has generally focused on various types of what the scientists call exoskeletons, although the devices often are localized to specific joints. Some use batteries or other energy sources to provide extra power, which can compensate for weakness in someone's body. Others are unpowered and simply reinforce or amplify whatever force people wearing them can generate.