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Power Suit Promises Super-Human Strength 230 230

anthemaniac writes "LiveScience is reporting out of NextFest on a Japanese-built power suit that amplifies the strength of its wearer. The onboard computer is hooked up to sensors that monitor natural movements, then it inflates cuffs to boost lifting power. The Power Assist Suit could be used by hospital workers to move heavy patients, the researchers say."
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Power Suit Promises Super-Human Strength

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:10PM (#16240267)
    Let the Mech Wars BEGIN!
  • SNL (Score:2, Funny)

    by LoverOfJoy (820058)
    They're going to (clap) pump you up!
  • by Scooter's_dad (833628) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:17PM (#16240309)
    Now all we need are little jet packs on the ankles.
    • And nukes. Nothing like portable nukes for takin' out the Skinnies.
      • by kevlarcowboy (996973) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:29PM (#16240819) Journal
        This is my powered armor suit. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My suit is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
        My suit, without me, is useless. Without my suit, I am useless. I must fire my tatical nuclear ordinance true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me.
        I must vaporize him before he shoots me. I will...
        My suit and myself know that what counts in this war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit...
        My armor suit is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its negative force feedback. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage as I will ever guard my legs, my arms, my eyes and my heart against damage. I will keep my powered armor suit clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will...
        Before God, I swear this creed. My suit and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life...
        So be it, until victory is Terra's and there is no enemy, but peace!
    • ...will there be a grandfather clause allowing me to keep voting?

      (What if the younger, semi-socialist R.A.H. had written "Starship Troopers"? He was still had that hazed-in loyalty to the military....)
    • by idonthack (883680) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:28PM (#16240813)
      Combine this with the recently renewed efforts by the marines to develop a system to deploy soldiers from space [defensetech.org], and we're pretty much there.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:17PM (#16240311)
    While the application of strengh-enhancing "suits" to care centers like hospitals and nursing homes may be unique, the idea has been around forever in both Sci-fi and military research programs. Battery life is the main issue for real suits, and this one with 30 minutes of power is no different. Unlike military applications, though, 30 minutes ought to be plenty to assist in the movement of heavier patients or simply augmenting the strength of waif-like Japanese nurses. In the battle theater, though, 30 minutes is woefully short.

    Other possible applications is in the rescue operations in the aftermath of a large earthquake or hurricane. We use tools to augment our strength all the time, from the fork to the forklift, we use these tools to do things that we just can't do ourselves.

    I welcome our new Japanese mecha suit nurse overlords.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Freaky Spook (811861)
      In the battle theater, though, 30 minutes is woefully short.

      You've obviously never seen an arnie movie ;) In 30 minutes he can defeat an entire army with a bag full of weapons, and save his daughter.
      This suit could allow Arnie to do it in 15 at least!!!

      • by ptbarnett (159784)
        In 30 minutes he can defeat an entire army with a bag full of weapons, and save his daughter.

        Even when the same guy with a beard arises from the dead and gets killed at least once more.

      • by MS-06FZ (832329)
        No, at this point most of the energy would be expended lifting Arnold himself...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NinjaFarmer (833539)
      Actually 30 minutes for a supported combat air drop could be pretty useful. 30 minutes of human mobility tank could be used to sieze a drop zone or helecoptor landing site. After that you lose the strength and mobility on the suit, but you still have the heavy weapons and special forces soldiers in those suites on site. Getting the suites OUT may be a problem, and the entrance is anything but subtle, but if you are going for real "shock-and-awe" type of assault a powered suit like that would be pretty
      • Yeah. Imagine what a few helicopter-loads of soldiers, armed with miniguns and impervious to small-arms fire, could do in 30 minutes. They could sieze any building in the world and hold it until their batteries died or reinforcements showed up.
    • by AmazingRuss (555076) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:10PM (#16240671)
      Japanese + nurses + mechasuit
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by briancnorton (586947)
      30 minutes is an eternity in modern battle. Most firefights last a few seconds.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lymond01 (314120)
      Well, for military purposes, the suit doesn't really need to be small, or even fit through a standard door frame. Like a post above, Starship Troopers (the book not that...other thing) had a suit that made them over 7 feet tall and could carry all kinds of ordinance. Probably room for more than 30 minutes of battery life in a suit like that. Just need to build the motor with enough power to lift the giant duracells. (Possibly solar cells for desert runs?)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by krunk4ever (856261)
      This reminded me Berkeley's Exoskeleton project: BLEEX
      http://bleex.me.berkeley.edu/bleex.htm [berkeley.edu]

      The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) funded the BLEEX project in 2000. Last November, U.C. Berkeley's Human Engineering and Robotics Laboratory, successfully demonstrated the first experimental Exoskeleton in which the pilot (i.e., the wearer) could carry a heavy load, while feeling only a few-pound load.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by AmberBlackCat (829689)
      I'm imagining a nerd putting on one of these suits and approaching the bully who's been taking his lunch money. After 29 minutes of playing with his new super strength, he finally taps the bully on the shoulder. It's about this time that his battery dies. The camera pans to the side so we can only hear the gory details: wham, wham, wham! Shoop. Then the camera pans back to show our hero sitting in a trash dumpster, checking his battery. Supervolt. Nooooooo! Tune in for part two when our hero is sure he'll
  • Dull (Score:5, Funny)

    by cowscows (103644) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:18PM (#16240323) Journal
    Moving heavy patients? Was someone having a contest to see who could come up with the most boring use of super-human strength?
    • Re:Dull (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms&infamous,net> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:37PM (#16240469) Homepage
      Moving heavy patients? Was someone having a contest to see who could come up with the most boring use of super-human strength?

      It may sound boring to you. Sounds like a really good idea to me...my mother, formerly a nurse, suffered a career-ending neck injury when she had to move a patient by herself in an understaffed nursing home. (The patient suffered from senile dementia, became combative, and she fell with the patient on top.)

      After fifteen years, two surgeries, and various physical therapies, she still has significant pain and disability.

      Sure, I want to trade in my Subaru for a mecha as much as any geek. But anything that prevents other nurses - the people who have the most impact on keeping you alive when you're hospitalized - from suffering a similar fate, sounds like a damn good idea to me.

      • by malraid (592373)
        Remember, Japan can't have an army, so that's the cover up. Of course all of the suits have laser gun mount points standard. It a little like the Million Dollar Man
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by slack-fu (940017)
        You forgot to start that reply with... "You insensitive clod!"
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Sure, I want to trade in my Subaru for a mecha as much as any geek.

        I'm sorry. Owning a Subaru automatically disqualifies you from owning a mecha.

      • Similar thing happened to my mother, years of lugging heavy patients around has its toll.
      • by RESPAWN (153636)
        I can think of another use... I had a friend whose mom worked in an understaffed nursing home. She caught some visitor doing something wrong and reported him to the police. He was arrested, but one of his friends came back to the nursing home and beat her to within an inch of her life, leaving her for dead. Luckily somebody else found her and called the medics. After a few surguries to repair the physical damage, she was still a clinically depressed, narcoleptic, single mother on a whole host of medica
      • Ditto for my late mother-in-law. Suffered a serious back injury moving a patient in the hospital she worked in. Only in her case it led to a slow spiral into pain killer addiction and eventually death.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Flinging fat people around like trailers in a tornado is boring to you?

      Holy shit man I have to be at your next party
    • by khallow (566160)

      Moving heavy patients? Was someone having a contest to see who could come up with the most boring use of super-human strength?

      That's where the money is for something like this. If it were fast, you probably could pick up military applications too.
    • http://orangecow.org/pythonet/sketches/neutron.ht m [orangecow.org]

      Voice Over: Mr Neutron! The most dangerous and terrifying man in the world! The man with the strength of an army! The wisdom of all the scholars in history! The man who had the power to destroy the world. (animation of planets in space) Mr Neutron. No one knows what strange and distant planet he came from, or where he was going to!... Wherever he went, terror and destruction were sure to follow.

      (Cut to Neutron's garden. He has three little picnic chairs out
      • by NaDrew (561847)
        Probably my least-favorite Python episode (evar). It goes from slightly interesting and mildly funny premise to boring, boring, isn't this over yet, boring, blah blah blah.
  • by Nova Express (100383) <lawrenceperson.gmail@com> on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:23PM (#16240365) Homepage Journal
    1. What could possibly go wrong?
    2. I for one welcome our new power-suited overlords!
    3. Does it transform into a semitruck?
    4. Put Rico's Roughnecks on standbye.
    5. Now we need to find a whining Japanese teenage boy who will be required to share living quarters with lots of hot girl and who be the only one who can pilot the mech to save the world.
    6. All hail our giant cyborg President! May death come quickly to his enemies!

    OK, we now return you to your regular Slashdotting.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by triffid_98 (899609)
      Gekigangar Punch?
    • 1. What could possibly go wrong?
      2. I for one welcome our new power-suited overlords!
      3. Does it transform into a semitruck?
      4. Put Rico's Roughnecks on standbye.
      5. Now we need to find a whining Japanese teenage boy who will be required to share living quarters with lots of hot girl and who be the only one who can pilot the mech to save the world.
      6. All hail our giant cyborg President! May death come quickly to his enemies!

      7. But does it run Linux?

      Well, does it?

    • ...but will it run Linux?
  • "Okay okay, okay, you can have all the cookies, Sandy; and I swear I won't tell Mommy, I swear!"
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:24PM (#16240373)
    My question is where are the dual minigun mounts?

     
  • Oh my god (Score:5, Funny)

    by CaffeineAddict2001 (518485) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:24PM (#16240385)
    If this suit gets a short while somebody is in mid-lift I hope it makes it on YouTube.
  • by Hao Wu (652581) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:26PM (#16240391) Homepage
    The Power Assist Suit could be used by hospital workers to move heavy patients, the researchers say.
    Or even fat people, possibly....

  • And 2 years prior... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dr. Eggman (932300) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:29PM (#16240409)
    The DARPA funded BLEEX [berkeley.edu] was prototyped to allow soldiers to carry 70 pound packs across flat and sloped terrain with hopes of 150 pound capacity in the next 6 monthes.

    Both are wonderful applications for exoskeleton technology; between the nature of asymetrical warfare and the retirement of the baby boomers, I think we're going to see alot more veterans and grandpa's go robo. Now if we could only improve that 30 minute battery...
    • The DARPA funded BLEEX [berkeley.edu] was prototyped to allow soldiers to carry 70 pound packs across flat and sloped terrain with hopes of 150 pound capacity in the next 6 monthes.

      Having been in that business ... that's a little weak on the specifications. Soldiers already carry 70 pound packs across flat and sloped terrain (and swamps, and mountains, and everything else). 150 pounds is definitely getting up into the range of severe unpleasantness, but it's not that far out of the realm of possibility for
  • 'Elbow cuffs' (Score:5, Insightful)

    by caitsith01 (606117) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:38PM (#16240471) Journal
    If this thing works buy supplying extra force at the joints, as it appears, then doesn't it carry a serious risk of injuring the extremities? For example, the suit might give you enough power via your elbows to lift something very heavy, but all that power is also being transferred through your wrists and fingers, which as far as I can see are unsupported and unaugmented. The amount of stress it could potentially put on those joints is a little worrying.

    I would think a system that covers the entire limb in questions would be far safer...
    • Re:'Elbow cuffs' (Score:4, Insightful)

      by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Friday September 29, 2006 @04:32AM (#16242343)
      This exact point was raised by Masamune Shirow, many years ago (in Ghost in the Shell, I believe). A fully cyborg arm, attached to a test stand, could easily lift a one ton weight - but attached to a human body, attempting to do the same would simply rip the arm out of its shoulder socket. The point was that only total-conversion cyborgs, or near-total-conversion, would gain any significant boosts in ability to beyond the level that could be accomplished by a normal human - limb replacement is good enough in the case of injury, but wouldn't let you do very much that you weren't already able to do.

      Presumably a full-coverage powered suit would have a similar effect, compared to limited augmentation of a few joints or limbs. Of course, there is the additional problem that human joints aren't designed to move very fast for a sustained period of time, and driving them at high speed with external actuators may cause injury.
  • makes the SCO vs. IBM lawsuit a P-p-p-p-p-powersuit!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "The Power Assist Suit could be used by hospital workers to move heavy patients, the researchers say.
    "

    Or to defeat godzilla, wichever happens first.
  • by magicnico (1002869) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @10:50PM (#16240553)
    What OS is on the onboard computer ?
  • But does it have a Varia Suit upgrade? I want a morph ball, too!

    -- n
  • Ready to Wear (Score:3, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:18PM (#16240723) Homepage Journal
    I was at the NextFest last night, and I checked out the exoskeleton. If you think you get a blister when you wear shoes a little too big/small, you'll see how you get several inches rubbed off when you wear one of these contraptions. Maybe by the time they replace our outer layers with some synthetic materials we'll be ready to wear these things all day.

    There was a really cool android chick, extremely realistic, which didn't seem to mind at all as the humans grabbed and pulled at "her" body. Now that's something we'll probably have people wearing out more pretty soon.
  • Pshaw, that's nothing. Read Stephen Hawking Builds Robotic Exoskeleton [theonion.com] and be envious!
  • Wininng (Score:2, Funny)

    by kevlarcowboy (996973)
    Does this mean I can now use my nerdy prowess as a physical advantage?

    I.E.: finally win a armwrestling match for once in my life.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @11:55PM (#16241039)
    Of course, coming from Japan, the super-powers of this suit will be voice-activated. And not just regular-voice, or sotto voce, the wearer will be required to shout-out the desired function as it is being used.

    Fat-Person-Lifting Super-Strength!!!!
    New-Bride-Over-Threshold Ultimate-Lift!!
    Giant-Cherry-Blossom Power-Tree-Shaker!!!
  • by TheLink (130905) on Friday September 29, 2006 @01:25AM (#16241585) Journal
    If it's really expensive and stays expensive, it may be cheaper to hire someone strong enough to do the job. In lots of places the cost of labour is lower than in Japan.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rabiddeity (941737)
      Problem is, Japanese society is highly xenophobic. I'm burning karma here, but this is from someone who has lived here for several years. They wouldn't let foreign workers into the country to do simple labor, for fear that they'd overstay their visas and cause crime and not learn to speak Japanese. Say what you will, but a racially/socially/economically homogeneous population has done loads to keep Japan's crime rates comfortably low, and they like it that way.

      So from that perspective, robotic assists se
      • by vertinox (846076)
        So from that perspective, robotic assists seem like the way to go. Sick, but true.

        This is also why the major developers of robots are car companies. Many Americans are saying "Why would a car company spend all this money on making robots?"

        The truth of it is that they are facing a labor shortage and see robotics as a better alternative to outsourcing or immigration.

        As opposed to US robots which are either utilitarian or military related. (Which we have obvious political reasons that we are engaged in for whi
  • 2 Clan Extended Range PPCs - ~8 Tons 2 SRM Racks - ~4 Tons Mad Cat MkII - ~60 Tons Stepping on someone whose psyched over their new power suit like they're an insect: Priceless.
  • Wouldn't it be cheaper to just label the fatso patient "two man lift"?
  • Yay!

    This poll [slashdot.org] comes closer and closer:

    Favorite Mario Powerup?
    • Mushroom (Super Mario Bros.)
    • Fire Flower (Super Mario Bros.)
    • Tanooki/Racoon Suit (Super Mario 3)
    • Kuribo's Shoe (Super Mario 3)
    • Cape (Super Mario World)
    • Metal Cap (Mario 64)
    • Rocket Nozzle (Mario Sunshine)
    • Mega-Mushroom (New Super Mario Bros.)

    (Okay, we already had the mushrooms.)

  • by sam991 (995040) on Friday September 29, 2006 @02:16AM (#16241813) Homepage
    Orange [wikimedia.org]? Or Green [wikimedia.org]?
  • by mrjb (547783) on Friday September 29, 2006 @02:32AM (#16241881)
    The Japanese first think of the suit as a way to help (nurses) in hospitals.

    As usual, the first American thought is how this could be used in war.
    I find this a bit tiring at least. Don't you guys see how brainwashed you are?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647)
      And the ever-righteous European is the first to turn a story about an augmented strength device into a slam on the US.

      Anyone who has seen Aliens or played MechWarrior can see the obvious potential military uses of this device.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by l0cust (992700)
      And I find this kind of generalisations more than a bit tiring:

      Ooh Japan builds super-strong robots to help the hospital nurses => cute japs !!111

      Some (supposedly) americans thought about military use as soon as they heard about it => WTF!!!11 sick-death mongering-carnage loving-americans !! You guys are soooo brainwashed !

      Just relax. If something stimulates the imagination then it is bound to be talked about. I am sure this power suit has its origin in some kid's dream who wanted to have su
    • by arthurh3535 (447288) on Friday September 29, 2006 @11:06AM (#16245269)
      Gee, stereotype much?

      While the US has/have been working on exo-frame type technology for military purposes, it is not a purely "American" concept. USA and Japan have both had fictional characters based on "power armor" and such. Iron Man, Knight Sabers, Starship Troopers.

      Though isn't it interesting that the mundane or boring use is the first wide-spread use is going to be a pragmatic use?

      Innovation comes to where it is needed first, not where we necessarily want it to go.
  • no suit required.

    Glycogen Super-Compensation [zerotosuperhero.com] carbload, which basically means glycogen stores in the muscles and elsewhere are first stripped using a ketogenic-style diet and primed with light resistance training, then followed by a massive refeeding of high-glycemic carbohydrates for 24 to 48 hours. The result of this supercompensation of glycogen stores is huge muscles and a massive surplus of strength and endurance. I kid you not.

    Enhanced Neural Drive [zerotosuperhero.com] which is basically tricking the central nervous system into thinking the upcoming load you will bear if heavier than it really is, thus making it feel light.

    There are probably others I can think of, but I just woke up ;)
    • You forgot large quantities of methamphetamines, that usually seems to work, at least for the guys behind the train station biting through steel pipes while stammering something about GIANT SPIDERS.

      Oh, you meant "legal ways"...
  • In other news: Samus Aran gets job lifting old patients into chairs during lull in Space Pirate activity.
  • by sacrilicious (316896) on Friday September 29, 2006 @08:24AM (#16243397) Homepage
    ... but all I want this for is so I can put it on and then scream, "Get away from her, you BITCH!"
  • Is it just me, or are the quality of the comments on Slashdot dropping significantly lately? It seems that every time I click "Read More," the first couple dozen comments are lame, one or two line jokes. Do people not realize that "Funny" mods don't garner you any karma? Why even post such inane drivel? Is it asking to much to have an interesting, insightful conversation? This story has several potentially significant aspects. We could be discussing how this will benefit the handicapped, the elderly,
  • ...the scientists placed upgrades for the power suit: morph ball, missiles, ice beam, screw attack, etc. Those nurses have a lot of exploring cut out for them!
  • I'm surprised nobody has yet mentioned this [imdb.com].
  • Is the human body engineered well enough to take such increased levels of stress though?

    I mean, sure, the tibia in your thigh might be *capable* of supporting 3,500+ pounds. But it doesn't do so on a regular basis, even for half-ton beached whales (who are sorry excuses for human beings, every one of them) that sometimes make tabloid headlines (of course, given they're on tabloids, I'm assuming that people like that actually exist...).

    Now, over time and with increased regular pressure, human bones will com

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