• “The Right Trousers” is a pioneering project which will enable people with mobility impairments, disabilities and age-related weaknesses to live independently and with dignity
  • The new technology and prototypes, which use artificial muscles, were revealed today at the British Science Festival

A group of researchers has developed innovative robotic technologies for clothing to help people with mobility problems get around more easily. The project, playfully named “The Right Trousers”, was made possible thanks to a £2 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Prof Jonathan Rossiter, Professor of Robotics in the Department of Engineering Mathematics and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory at the University of Bristol, leads the project and demonstrated the new technologies at the British Science Festival, which is taking place in Hull this week.

Several components make up the smart trousers, which are unique due to their light weight, comfort and ability to work in collaboration with the body. They work in helping vulnerable people avoid falls by supporting them whilst walking and giving them added bionic strength to move between sitting and standing positions, and while climbing stairs.

The technology also allows for easy dressing, as the clothing changes size when you want to take it off and reacts to the environment, offering a cooling function in the summer and warming in the winter.

Prof Jonathan Rossiter and his team of collaborators also shared a mock-up of what the final trousers will look like. Speaking on the work, he said: “At project start (2015) the mere prospect of power trousers generated significant interest.  Now we are showing the actual technologies and clothing developed.

“Our moving and hands-on demonstrations really put the technologies in context and show their potential.  We are all going to need smart clothing to help us be mobile for longer.  It is easy to see how these will become ubiquitous the near future”.

He went on to say: “People are living longer, and as the world faces an aging population it is desirable that we are kept as active and independent for as long as possible. This maintains quality of life and promotes cognitive health. Unfortunately, we become less mobile with age and reach the point where mobility around the house becomes difficult. “The Right Trousers” is a pioneering project, which will eventually enable people with mobility impairments, disabilities and age-related weaknesses to live independently and with dignity.”

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