Wearable tails are a fashion trend that humans enjoy wearing for entertainment events or cosplay, but none of them have the ability to maintain their balance. Researchers at Keio University in Japan have developed a wearable tail named the Arque tail that can greatly improve the wearer’s coordination, including balance and agility.


The Arque tail acts as a balance and agility enhancer for the wearer and can even help workers lift up heavy objects. (Image Credit: Yamen Saraiji)


Monkeys are the source of inspiration behind the Arque tail – when they jump from tree to tree their tail acts as an additional limb. This allows their tails to grasp onto branches and enables them adjust their bodies in mid-flight, landing safely by shifting their center of balance while moving in the air. The Arque tail has the same effect on humans, with one exception; it’s not possible or recommended to jump from the tallest tree branches.


The Arque tail can even provide humans with the same level of agility as a cat, even though the design is an imitation of the appendage found on the end of a seahorse. It’s built with a series of interconnected plastic vertebrae that’s customizable to the wearer by adding in segments or counter-balance weights, all depending on the size of the human wearing the tail. There are a set of four artificial muscles powered by compressed air that can contract and expand in a variety of different combinations to allow the tail to move and curl in any direction. In its current design, the tail relies on an external air compressor to produce the right amount of pressure for the tail to move. An air compressor won’t always be needed to power the appendage. Instead, a strong battery could be used in its place in the future as research on artificial muscles becomes more advanced. 


The Arque tail could be used in some applications, such as helping to keep workers balanced while lifting or carrying heavy objects around. It works similarly to an exoskeleton suit that improves the capabilities of the wearer’s muscles, acting as a counterbalance, making it possible to use less force when lifting heavy objects up from the ground. The tail is a lot less complex than an exoskeleton and is much easier to put on and remove. Researchers who developed the Arque tail believe it could be effective at adding full-body haptic feedback to anyone playing around in the virtual world by adjusting their balance and momentum to imitate those experiences in the virtual world.



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