A high-tech Lycra suit covered with inflatable muscles to give elderly people more strength and stability to move around has been invented by a Japanese scientist, it was reported on Thursday.

The suit, which has been developed by Hiroshi Kobayashi of the Science University of Tokyo, has its own power supply and pressure sensors that tell the artificial muscles when to inflate, New Scientist magazine said.

Power is supplied by compressed air stored in tiny canisters in the suit or through a container on the back, although only the upper half of the suit has been completed.

The magazine quoted Kobayashi as saying that "the beauty of the suit is that the wearer's own bones and joints act as supports and fulcrums for the inflatable muscles". It added that he hopes his suit will "become as ubiquitous as the Zimmer frame".