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In winter, my nose gets very cold, very quickly. Whether I’m at home or out on the streets, my nose—unlike any other part of my body—turns icy, spoiling whatever activity I am engaged in. A few weeks ago, after years of suffering, I bought a nose-warmer. Yes, they do exist. Mine is, technically, a purple cup of fleece with a strap: you slide a nose into it, and the snout stays warm. Problem solved—or so I thought.
What I had not factored in when buying the nose-warmer were the stares. Just try taking a stroll with a nose-warmer on. Even in blasé London—and even after two years of generalized mask-wearing—people will look at you, make funny faces at you, and, very likely, judge you for donning a fleece on your nose. Now I wear my nose-warmer outdoors only when strictly necessary; I mostly use it in the comfort of my home. Which brings me to the question: If the world cannot cope with nose-warmers, will it ever be ready for exoskeletons?
Hong Kong– and Shenzhen-based company Enhanced Robotics has created the Sportsmate 5. On the surface, it looks like a rather elaborate tool belt. In fact, it is an exoskeleton—a piece of wearable robotics that can boost one’s physical performance—designed for athletes and casually sporty people alike.
Enhanced Robotic hopes that Sportsmate 5 will become the first consumer exoskeleton ever: Right now, these kinds of machines are either developed with trudging soldiers in mind (Darpa has been funding research on the technology for decades) or used in medical contexts as mobility aids for people who have suffered a spinal cord injury.
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