Kitchener’s ‘mad scientist’ finds online fame

KITCHENER — Move aside, Matt Damon. Waterloo Region’s James Hobson has his own powerful exoskeleton, and his actually works.

Hobson is real-life ‘mad scientist,’ taking inspiration from comics and science fiction movies to make remarkable, working gadgets in his garage. He combined an engineering degree, jack-of-all-trades mechanical skills and a creative mind to build a growing online fan base cheering him on from around the world.

And he does all of it from his workshop on a quiet suburban street in Kitchener’s west end.

“Quite a few of my neighbours are well aware I’m a crazy inventor. They see me welding at night sometimes, and there are flashes of light coming out from the bottom of the garage door,” he said.

At 24, he’s already built an electric car, electrified Wolverine-style claws, a high-powered bow out of two old skis, and plenty more. Through his website, theHacksmith.ca, he produces videos showing viewers how to make their own far-out engineering projects, too.

But he’s achieving his greatest fame so far after building a working, wearable exoskeleton, inspired by Damon’s futuristic thriller Elysium, which harnesses compressed air to do superhuman feats.

(Story continues below video)

Hobson’s video of himself doing 170-pound barbell curls while wearing the suit is closing in on a million views on his YouTube channel — all in the span of little more than a week. It’s been getting attention from a British newspaper, a TV station in Chicago, online blogs and…

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