Vanderbilt University engineers developed what they call ‘smart underwear” that will reportedly be able to help prevent back pain. It will do so by supporting the back and reducing injury risks. Back pain is one of the most common problems of the present day society.
According to reports, more than half of all adults will have such a problem at one point in their lifetime. It will also lead to lower or lost productivity every year, reportedly, over $100 billion in the United States economy alone.
Karl Zelik, a Vanderbilt University assistant professor of mechanical engineering reportedly got the idea of developing a wearable technology solution after experiencing back pain as he was lifting his two-years old.
Smart Underwear to Help Protect the Back
Zelik states that “I’m sick of Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne being the only ones with performance-boosting supersuits. We, the masses, want our own. The difference is that I’m not fighting crime. I’m fighting the odds that I’ll strain my back this week trying to lift my 2-year-old.”
Together with a team of mechanical engineers, Zelik developed a “smart, mechanized undergarment”. One that combines biomechanics with wearable technology and tries to reduce the lower back stress.
This smart underwear is made out of two fabric sections. These are designed to fit over the legs and chest. The sections can get connected with rubber on the lower back and are attached by straps across the middle of the back. This underwear is made out of polyester, Lycra, and nylon.
The smart underwear gets activated either over a smartphone Bluetooth connection or by double tapping on the shirt. This helps move the stress from the back and into the fabric. Double tapping on the shirt again releases the straps, and then the wearer can sit down again.
The study team tested the device on eight different people. They were asked to lift 11 kilograms and 25 kilograms weights while holding positions at 30, 60, and 90 degrees. While wearing the smart underwear, the lower back muscles activity was reduced by a median 15 to 45 percent.
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