By day, James Hobson works as a product developer at Christie Digital Systems in Kitchener, Ont.
But when his shift is over, he goes to his garage workshop, where he delves into his hobby of working on mechanical creations.
His latest project is an exoskeleton powered by an air compressor that can augment human strength, essentially performing one of the main functions of the suit worn by Iron Man, the comic book superhero. The air compressor is activated by a switch near one of the hand grips on the suit.
So far, Hobson has successfully been able to lift 170 pounds in a barbell curl while wearing the suit. He says he now plans to upgrade the air compressor to a more powerful model, so that he can lift 300 pounds.
"I've always enjoyed making things, taking things apart, rebuilding them," said Hobson. "Ever since my engineering degree at [Kitchener's] Conestoga College, it was more of an applied degree, so we had lots of real manufacturing projects during our degree, and then at home I just wanted to do more."
Hobson posted on his YouTube channel a video of his first attempt at lifting 170 pounds with his exoskeleton suit, and has since gained over one million views.
Hobson made the exoskeleton suit for fun. He estimates it took between 30 and 40 hours to build, and cost him just $100, though he says he got the pneumatic cylinders for free.
He says he mainly gets inspirations for his creations from science fiction films and movies. The exoskeleton was based on the powered suits from the 2013 film Elysium starring Matt Damon.
"I'm not really a prop builder, I care about function over esthetics," said Hobson. "A lot of my stuff doesn't look movie accurate, but it works."