Climbing and descending stairs may become easier thanks to a new prototype invented by scientists at Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology. These developed assistive stairs, which were touted as being “energy-recycling” and a possible help to the elderly or disabled.
The prototype was developed by a group of computer scientists, biomedical engineers, and mechanical engineers working together. A study paper presenting the experiment and its results is available in the journal PLOS One.
Assistive Stairs to Offer a Boost of Your Own Energy
The “energy-recycling” stairs are based on latched springs, which were introduced in the stair. As the foot presses down on the stair, these compress and save some 26 percent of the energy used in the process.
Then, as the person climbs, the collected energy gets released and can boost the step by some 37 percent. According to reports, this technology can be used both while ascending and also while descending the stairs.
The study team tested a prototype version of its assistive stairs with some help from nine participants. These were asked to walk up and down the stairs. Based on this, the researchers analyzed their energy use patterns.
Further research and test are still needed. However, the team is hoping to develop and eventually release a product that is both efficient and affordable. It is especially looking to assist elder people or individuals with disabilities that can still walk.
The researchers consider that the currently available solutions are not very practical and that they are also expensive. Stair lifts and elevators are not easy to install at home and are also costly.
“Low-cost, easily-installed assistive stairs could be a way to allow people to retain their ability to use stairs and not move out of their homes,” states Karen Liu, the lead author of the study.
The study team suggests that reducing the work required by climbing or descending stairs could reduce the metabolic energy expenditure. It may also reduce the joint and muscle forces that cause pain.
Image Source: Pixabay