One giant boing for mankind

In the wake of my recent posting on the insanity of jetpacks, Brian Corcoran pointed out yet another example of innovative technology designed to augment human abilities, and break every single bone in our bodies: The Springwalker. Pictured above, it’s a spring-powered exoskeleton that lets you boing along at high speed; in a demonstration video, the Springwalker looks and sounds eerily like one of those shuffling, Ewok-vulnerable AT-ST walkers from Star Wars. (Yes, I just wrote the phrase “Ewok-vulnerable”.) As the inventors told Fortune:

“Nature spent millions of years engineering us as running creatures. It will take some doing to better that — but we’ll soon be running at 30 miles per hour,” says NASA physicist John Dick, who co-invented this walking device at his Claremont, California, startup company in his spare time. “This is just a clumsy prototype, but it will give rise to a whole family of enhanced-gait machines the likes of which we’ve never seen.”

I gotta admit, it looks like a lot of fun — but you’d be picking road-gravel out of your larynx if you did a face-plant on one of these things.

(Thanks to Brian for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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