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Maker Faire Shows Off the Human Forklift (And Other Cool Inventions)

Kurt Wagner

Projects come in all shapes and sizes at Maker Faire, the wacky show-and-tell festival for artists and inventors. There are those that exist just for the sake of existing, like the “Unnecessarily High 5,” a bunch of dangling mannequin hands that require a nice vertical leap in order to give them a good slap.

And then there are the kinds of projects that offer a glimpse into the future. Projects like the human forklift.

A group of teenagers from the Bay School in San Francisco showed off what they call the Ajax Exosuit on Saturday, a wearable suit intended to help its operator lift as much as 400 pounds without breaking a sweat. Ian Simons, a 17-year-old junior on the team, told me to “think of it like a forklift.” I envisioned a real-life Incredible Hulk (or maybe Iron Man is more appropriate).

The suit, which has working hydraulic joints, is far from complete, but the students generated quite the crowd as they demonstrated it at Maker Faire (it was supported by a frame for the demo). The guys don’t plan to use the suit for showing off at the gym; the team envisions warehouse workers may someday use it on the job. Goodbye, workers’ comp!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czLu5Y-kP80

The exosuit wasn’t the only invention on display intended to make life a little easier for its wearer. Rich Brull, an inventor from Kansas City, was also showing off an energy saver: A motorized Adirondack chair, complete with a built-in umbrella for shade.

Brull came up with the idea three years ago sitting in his garage. He was thirsty, but the fridge was, you know, way over there.

“I thought, ‘I wish I didn’t have to get up and get that beer,'” he said. “It was either the fridge come to me or I go to the fridge.” The motorized Adirondack chair was born, and can go up to five miles per hour. A nice, leisurely walk, Brull explained.

What else was shown off at Maker Faire? Here’s what we found.

 The Unnecessarily High 5
The Unnecessarily High 5
Kurt Wagner
 Man transforms into fish.
Man transforms into fish.
Kurt Wagner
 Rich Drull of Kansas City lounges in his motorized Adirondack chair.
Rich Drull of Kansas City lounges in his motorized Adirondack chair.
Kurt Wagner
 Meow?
Meow?
Kurt Wagner
 A man rode around Maker Faire in this cupcake car with a fake candle attached to his helmet.
A man rode around Maker Faire in this cupcake car with a fake candle attached to his helmet.
Kurt Wagner/ Re/code
 A team of R2D2 robots
A team of R2D2 robots
Kurt Wagner
 Robots and humans came together to celebrate Maker Faire 2015.
Robots and humans came together to celebrate Maker Faire 2015.
Kurt Wagner/ Re/code

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.

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