Four students from the University of Pennsylvania have scooped a £30,000 prize awarded by the James Dyson Foundation, which was set up by the vacuum cleaner company founder to reward students working on groundbreaking projects.

While looking like something the beginning of a home-made Stormtrooper costume, the Titan Arm increases the user’s arm strength by 18kg – and it prevents you stooping and damaging you back. Watch the video above to see it in action.

It’s creators see it as being useful for people who need to lift heavy objects on a regular basis, or for those who’ve injured their back and need to rebuild their muscles.

Another key asset to the Titan Arm is that it can be built for around £1,245, while current exoskeleton systems cost over £60,000 – so it has a lot more chance of being useful to us mere mortals.

Future plans for the Titan Arm – now that the team has £30,000 of funding to play with – is to investigate how the exoskeleton could be used by people with severe injuries or even paralysis. The team also plans to open source the project to allow developers and researchers to collaborate with it, and build their own creations based on its technology.

Runner up projects getting ten grand apiece were prosthetic hand Handie and 3D-printed cast for broken limbs called Cortex.