Application of a User-Centered Design Approach to the Development of XoSoft – A Lower Body Soft Exoskeleton
The objective of this research was to apply a user-centered design approach to the development of a soft exoskeleton for lower limb assistance. There has been a clear shift from hard to soft robotic exoskeletons in recent years. Soft exoskeleton technologies typically comprise sensors and actuators embedded in fabric/technical textiles. This approach to physical assistance offers benefits in usability for wearers, but also presents challenges e.g. how the concepts are put on/off and worn for long durations considering the personal needs of the wearer. Presented is a structured three-cycle development approach which considers user-centered design principles, but also a participatory user-driven design-test-redesign methodology. Target users for the concept (older adults, individuals post-stroke or incomplete spinal cord injury) were involved in concurrent design evaluation and development throughout the design process.
The authors acknowledge the contributions of the XoSoft consortium: Fondazione Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia (Italy), Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spain), Stichting Saxion (Netherlands), University of Limerick (Ireland), Zurich University of Applied Science (Switzerland), Roessingh Research and Development BV (Netherlands), accelopment AG (Switzerland), Geriatrics Centre Erlangen (Germany), Össur hf (Iceland).
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