The Tokyo University of Agriculture has developed a wearable exo-skeleton that will be used to assist farmers over the age of 65 in their daily duties of plucking radishes and whatnot from the earth. For those of you who don't know what an exo-skeleton is, remember that scene from Aliens where Sigourney Weaver is fighting the alien queen in the airlock, and she comes out of the storage room in that big yellow suit? The whole "get away from her, you b*tch!" line? Yeah, that's an exo-skeleton. Here's a picture of Sigourney's badass suit, and here's a picture of the one the Tokyo scientists have built for farmers.
The idea is that it's a powered suit that will take some of the bodily stress associated with physical labour off the elderly farmers, and frankly I think it's a great idea. I mean, some people might argue that when you're 65 you don't have any business picking radishes anymore because you should really be retired. But if you know anybody of that age bracket, you know the last thing most of these people want to do is retire -- they want to feel useful and they want to continue contributing to the greater good, however they might see that. This suit allows them to do just that. And let's face it -- when 40% of your radish-picking work force is over 65, it's probably a really good idea to implement some kind of support system for them, because no matter what manga and anime might tell you, putting kids in robot suits to pick vegetables still probably falls under the category of child labour.
Cool idea, but like I said in the title -- this could only come from Japan.