A unique pair of pants could offer mobility to the elderly and people in wheelchairs around the world. A group of engineers in England has created technology inside clothing to strengthen leg muscles.
For Cheryl Chilcott, walking on her own has been a challenge since birth. ”I can walk a bit, but I’m always holding on to furniture, or always looking for the next place to sit down or take a rest.”
She thought a wheelchair would be her only option. Until she found out about these pants.
Scientists say robotic technology stitched into the seams is a breakthrough for millions who need help to move.
”For those people that don’t have much muscle function, the pants will give them a lot of power, that’s the goal,” explained robotics professor, Jonathan Rossiter.
Engineers at England’s University of Bristol found inspiration from the Wallace and Grommit film – “The Wrong Trousers”. “So it’s very natural for us to call ours, not the wrong trousers – but the RIGHT trousers,” said Rossiter
Bubbles are sewn down the thighs of the pants that act as extra muscles – expanding with air to help you stand or contracting to help you sit.
Components on the side hold electrodes that stimulate leg muscles to move. Researchers say the pants can boost leg strength and mobility by 10 percent.
The price of the pants isn’t cheap though. Right now, costs run around $2 million a pair. “I think maybe these are some of the most expensive pants in the world,” said Rossiter. Also adding to the pants’ expensive price-tag are knee supports, washable material, and an expandable waistband.
But the price is expected to drop quickly. ”Our goal is to make to make these, within seven to ten years, cheap enough that the average person can go into a store, could buy them and could use them,” said Rossiter.
That means Chilcott could be wearing them by the year 2025. ”It will make a big difference to a lot of people.”
Researchers say the “Right Trousers” are a huge step in keeping people moving.