"Macho, macho man," the Village People once sang, "I got to be a macho man." Not everybody can afford a popstar's life of personal trainers, however, and so KOA Corporation has stepped in with a compact power-assisted exoskeleton, the KOA Muscle Suit, intended to help regular people lift the sort of weights you'd traditionally need assistance with. We strapped our weak geek bodies in to see if it worked.
Although full-body assisted exoskeletons have been around for some time, KOA's system is more compact than many. A V-shaped bracket, it sits on the back and braces itself against your upper thighs and lower back, with arm supports and gloves for your hands. Altogether it weighs around 10kg on its own.
When you're wearing it, however, you can lift loads of 5okg (110 pounds)without breaking a sweat, the motorized arms helping support the weight. KOA ran us through the same demo with the system turned on and off, and it's definitely a noticeable difference: with the power-assistance running, the load felt like a fifth of its actual weight.
Unfortunately KOA isn't planning on selling us Muscle Suits direct; instead, it's focusing on enterprise use, such as in warehouses and other situations where heavy stock might need to be carried. No word on how much being an impromptu Iron Man might cost.