Elderly in Japan Are Wearing Exoskeletons to Keep Working Past Retirement Age

With an aging population, companies are looking to keep older people employed for longer thanks to the assistive suits.
Fabienne Lang

Exoskeletons aren't merely useful for paralyzed people, super-strong soldiers, or for those assembling automotives — they're now also being used to give support to the elderly. 

NewScientist reported that the older generation in Japan is using exoskeletons to complete regular everyday tasks that allow them to keep working later in life.

With a high rate of aging citizens, Japan currently has one of the oldest populations in the world. In order to counteract this, companies are creating exoskeletons for the elderly to wear to keep working. 


With an aging population, you need solutions

According to the U.S. Population Reference Bureau, 26% of Japan's population is over 65 years old. That means it has the highest number of people above that age anywhere in the world. 

Innophys suit. Source: Innophys

To try and find a solution to this increasing issue, Japanese firms are building exoskeleton suits that older people can wear that will give them added support to keep on working. 

One of these companies is Innophys

Innophys has built a number of suits that you wear like a backpack. These are recharged by squeezing a hand pump 30 times, which pushes air into the air-powered 'muscles'. 

By wearing one such suit, a person can lift up to 55 lbs (24 kg), and it costs around $1,300.

"One client is a family-owned company which makes and sells pickled radish and uses heavyweights in the process of production," Daigo Orihara, Innophys spokesperson, told New Scientist. "The father is in his 70s and was supposed to retire but is still working with our muscle suit."

As the shortage of fit and able workers in Japan is dwindling, these suits may indeed come in handy for those who need extra assistance. 

Innophys 'Upper' suit. Source: Innophys

Currently, the Japanese age for retirement is 60 years old, however, as the workforce keeps lowering, the nation's government is looking to increase the age to 70. A solution to help keep the elderly working has to be a priority.


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