Those crack backpack researchers at the University of Pennsylvania are at it again, New Scientist reports, following up their power-generating backpack with one designed simply to lighten the load on the wearer, apparently re-purposing some of the same technology from their earlier model. As with that backpack, the person wears a metal frame with the cargo suspend from it, in this case using elastic cords instead of springs. But instead of generating power from the resulting bouncing motion, the backpack simply takes advantage of the natural action to keep the load at a constant height as the person walks, supposedly reducing the energy required to carry a heavy load by up to 40%. Unlike wth the power-generating backpack, however (which was developed at the behest of the US Office of Naval Research) Larry Rome, the creator of this new bouncy backpack, looks to be thinking commercially from the get go, founding the "Lighting Packs" company with the full intention of taking 'em to market.

[Via Digg]

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Researchers develop backpack to ease heavy loads