Here’s a detail that Iron Man got all wrong: In the movie, the suit’s inventor is an American businessman. Please. Tony Stark would never get the jump on the Japanese. Witness this working robotic suit:
The design is meant for a pressing problem: 40% of Japan’s farmers are over 65, and pulling radishes, pruning trees, and picking strawberries is difficult, back-breaking work. The robot suit solves that by giving any worker a power boost and enough support to perform those tasks effortlessly. The developers say that they’ll be able to halve the suit’s weight for it’s market introduction in two years. It’ll cost less than $11,200. At that price, if you ever thought the Segway was almost cool enough to buy, you are obligated to snatch up one of these.
The bloggers that have already picked up this story have dropped an inevitable conclusion: Only in Japan. But Japan isn’t the only economy facing a massive challenge as huge swathes of its population age: Europe and China are in the same bind. (Economists sometimes say China’s core challenge is getting rich before it gets old.) In fact studies have already shown those regions will face huge resource problems as the elderly population gets too old to care for itself—-and there won’t be enough workers to fill the gap. At $11,200, this suit would be incredibly cheap if it could get grandma just a few years of active life. Can you imagine?