A team of engineers has combined the science of biomechanics and advances in wearable tech to create a smart, mechanized undergarment. The team’s testing proves that the smart clothing offloads stress on the low back.

A man shows the back of the performance-boosting super-suit.
(Credit: Joe Howell/Vanderbilt)

The device consists of two fabric sections, made of nylon canvas, Lycra, polyester, and other materials, for the chest and legs. The sections are connected by sturdy straps across the middle back, with natural rubber pieces at the lower back and glutes.

The device is designed so that users engage it only when they need it. A simple double tap to the shirt engages the straps. When the task is done, another double tap releases the straps so the user can sit down, and the device feels and behaves like normal clothes. The device also can be controlled by an app that the team created — users tap their phones to engage the smart clothing wirelessly via Bluetooth.

Using motion capture, force plates and electromyography, they demonstrated that the device reduced activity in the lower back extensor muscles by an average of 15–45 percent for each task.