If you’ve ever watched Wallace and Gromit in The Wrong Trousers and thought, “those look like a great idea if they actually worked,” you will be overjoyed to discover that a group of UK engineers have made your dreams a reality.
Developed by engineers from seven universities from across the UK for a cool £2.5 million and funded by the government’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Right Trousers (yes, really) have seen their debut at the British Science Festival in Hull.
Far from a funny attempt to make the famed techno trousers a reality, the Right Trousers are a lightweight pair of trousers who are fitted with artificial muscles, and were designed to provide the wearer with additional support when they’re moving from sitting to standing positions and while climbing stairs, and to lower the risk of falls.
The trousers feature muscles made of strings of plastic bubbles which are powered by compressed air, and materials which can change from flexible to rigid by passing a weak electric current through them. Weak electrical pulses are also used to stimulate the wearer’s muscles.
Professor Jonathan Rossiter, head of the Soft Robotics group at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory and a member of the Right Trousers team, told the Financial Times: “If we can give someone who is disabled just a 10% increase in their muscle strength and mobility, that will make a significant difference to their life, helping them to live independently and with dignity.
“Our dream is to make our power trousers ubiquitous so that in six or seven years you could go into Boots and take them home with you.”
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