Canada's Military Spent $1M on Hydraulic Knee Braces to Make Soldiers Stronger
Soldiers will be able to lift more and hit the ground harder.
Image: Spring Loaded Technology
The Canadian military will test technology that allows soldiers to carry more, crouch for longer, and better withstand the impact of parachuting to the ground.
Spring Loaded Technology, based outside Halifax, Nova Scotia, has signed a $1,129,990 contract with the Canadian Department of National Defence to provide the military with an undisclosed number of hydraulic leg braces powerful enough to exert the pressure needed to lift 160 pounds, with a brace worn on each leg. It's kind of like car suspension, but for your body. According to company CEO Chris Cowper-Smith, the braces will be tested by the military for "a variety of tactical missions."
"They're interested in knowing how it integrates with their gear," said Cowper-Smith. "If it will allow soldiers to lift more weight safely, for example. They're in the assessment phase and they're willing to purchase a number of braces based on what we've shown them so far for testing."
"[Paratroopers] are coming in hard and pulling the chute very late. These could be used to absorb some of the impact"
Unlike other brace designs that use actual metal springs, Spring Loaded's brace uses what's known as a "liquid spring," which works by displacing fluid and then returning it to generate an explosive spring-like burst of force. Some of the more traditional spring-based designs are capable of providing enough force to give the strengthening effect of taking off an eight-pound backpack, but Spring Loaded promises much more.
"We've reinforced the carbon shells and arms to prevent injuries," Cowper-Smith explained. "Say, if there's a lateral blow to the knee, a lot of it would be absorbed by the brace. Also, in paratrooping, special forces come down wearing big, thick, rubber-soled boots that they remove when they land. Those are intended for shock absorption, but it's a very common injury to blow out your knee while landing. Those guys are coming in hard and pulling the chute very late. These could be used to absorb some of the impact."
Spring Loaded Technology's brace wasn't always for warfighting. The company aims to provide commercial versions for injury rehabilitation and for use in extreme sports. An Indiegogo campaign for the brace is currently more than 200 percent funded with three days to go, and the company has also raised nearly $2 million in venture capital funding.
But these commercial braces aren't intended for use by soldiers. Instead, the company designed a beefed-up version that would work with equally beefy soldiers in the field, Cowper-Smith said.
Regardless of how the military feels about the braces after testing, commercial versions will be shipping by summer of 2016. Harder, better, faster, stronger, eh?