The Steadicam was originally developed to take the shake out of Hollywood chase scenes. Now a California company, Equipois, has given it a new purpose: to help line workers and file clerks. The x-Ar arm reimagines a Steadicam's spring system to make arms and tools feel weightless, diminishing the risk of repetitive-stress injuries without motors, batteries or external power.
Shape-memory alloys that change shape when heated could become tiny mechanical muscles for electronic devices. New mechanical devices based on the alloys produce three to six times more torque than electric motors, and weigh just one-20th as much.
Such devices, known as actuators, can be cut from a flat sheet of metal just a fraction of a millimeter thick. They emerged from a roject that aims to build printable robots, where the robots would consist of both the metal actuators and plastic components that could be built layer-by-layer through a process similar to inkjet printing.