Analysis of the User Requirements and Product Specifications for Home-Use of the ABLE Exoskeleton
Sammanfattning: Lower-limb exoskeletons are an emerging technology to provide walking assistance to people who have a spinal cord injury (SCI). Until now, exoskeletons have primarily been used in a clinical setting for a range of applications in rehabilitation, and there is potential for exoskeletons to be used by people with SCI at home. Daily walking with an exoskeleton contributes significantly to physical and mental health of the user, but previous work has concluded that further development is required before exoskeletons are broadly adopted for this purpose. ABLE Human Motion is currently working to create a lightweight and intuitive exoskeleton for home use. To understand how this exoskeleton must be designed differently from clinical rehabilitation exoskeletons, it is necessary to understand the user requirements of the device in depth. This thesis explored: 1) what methodology is appropriate for evaluating home use exoskeletons, 2) what users want to use a personal exoskeleton for, and 3) what design changes distinguish an exoskeleton for home use instead of rehabilitation. This was done using a combination of literature review, hazard analysis, user observations (n=7), user interviews (n=7), and physiotherapist interviews (n=3) to derive a detailed set of user requirements and product specifications for a personal exoskeleton for home use. Interviews were conducted face-to-face and analyzed using thematic analysis. Results of the study show that users primarily want to use a personal exoskeleton for daily exercise and wellness activities, in outdoor environments, and around the theme of “like-everyone-else”. Therapists added an additional theme of user trust in the device. These insights have been translated into a set of prioritized user requirements and product specifications for a lower-limb exoskeleton for walking assistance after SCI, which can be used in the future design and development of such a device. Future work will be to develop testing setups to further explore the product specifications, and to conduct observation studies of the exoskeleton being used in a home-like environment.
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