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Smart trousers could be revolutionary for healthcare

The development of various items of smart clothing continues to gather pace, and the latest tech garment to come to light is one that will have Wallace and Gromit fans suitably impressed.

The “right trousers”, as they may well be called (or possibly not), are being developed by a team of robotics boffins from the University of Bristol (pictured), and the idea is that the material the smart trousers is made from will boast “artificial muscles”. To quote the Guardian, which spotted this story, the trousers will feature “reactive plastic-like molecules” which can exert considerable force.

This could help those with limited mobility, such as, for example, old people climbing stairs (and mean they could do away with that hugely clunky piece of machinery which is the stair lift).

Project leader, Dr Jonathan Rossiter, told the Guardian: “This is the first time soft robotics technologies have been used to address the many rehabilitation and healthcare needs in one single type of wearable device.”

The smart trousers will have a control system that can judge the level of assistance needed to augment the user’s own muscles, so could be used in rehabilitation, with the level of assistance lessened as the user’s legs get stronger and stronger.

It’s clever stuff, and could lead to people being able to avoid being reliant on a wheelchair.

Other interesting smart clothing ideas include the Lechal smart shoes, which hook up to your smartphone, and can give navigation directions – with a haptic buzz on the left shoe telling you to turn left. They will also record various fitness data such as distance run, calories burned and so forth.

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.