The idea of technologically aided super-strength in movies is well established, such as in the recent Iron Man 3, and the upcoming Elysium in August, where Matt Damon plays a soldier with a surgically grafted exoskeleton.
A lot of us have probably day dreamed that we could use something like that. But some students at the University of Pennsylvania have gone a little further than daydreaming, and developed the Titan Arm.
This arm is constructed from 38 custom tooled aluminium components designed by the students themselves, and was shaped and built over 300 hours of machine time.
Incorporating joint sensors and a back plate for support and stability, the Titan Arm allows its fairly slender operator to bicep curl a not unimpressive 40 lbs (18 kgs).
While there are certainly stronger and more powerful exoskeletal suits in development, such as the XOS2 by Raytheon, what makes this design so unique is that it is completely untethered.
Whereas the XOS2 needs to be joined permanently to a main power supply, restricting its range, the Titan Arm draws power from a 5 Volt battery, which can work for 40 minutes per 2 hours of charging.
The student team behind the design never intended for it to be used to punch through walls however, and envision the design being developed for therapeutic and rehabilitory use, for those who are undergoing physiotherapy or who experience joint pain or muscle wasting.