Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and North Carolina State University have developed an unpowered ankle exoskeleton that makes walking more efficient by taking a load off the calf muscles.
This device reduces the metabolic cost of walking by around 7%, which is equivalent to taking off a 10 pound backpack. What's interesting about this device is that it doesn't use batteries, electricity or other energy, yet offers energy savings similar to electrically powered exoskeletons.
While the human body is already a pretty efficient creation, figuring out ways to improve performance while minimizing energy expenditure and effort could have a lot of implications for a lot of sectors including healthcare, industrial labor and military. The light weight of the device and the relatively low cost of producing it makes it even more promising.