Japan has one of the largest populations over the age of 65 out of any country, comprising about 26% of the total population (2015). Japan has both the world’s highest life expectancy and the lowest birthrate. As Japan’s workforce continues to decline, the right-wing government of Shinzo Abe has sought to grapple with labor shortages and increased public spending on the senior citizen population by raising the retirement age from 60 to anywhere between 65 and 71.
But now, Japanese tech companies hope to use these exoskeleton suits to allow them to continue their labor well into their advanced age, with some suits costing only $1,300 and allowing people to lift up to 55 pounds. The suit can be charged through a hand pump that fills the “muscles” with pressurized air.
Automotive giant Toyota has also poured funds into its motorized exoskeleton research division, in part out of hopes to support the aging workforce. Panasonic, too, has created the popular Atoun Model Y, a $5,500 suit that adds 22 pounds of lifting force to wearers.