Human-centered design approaches for wearable robotics have gained increased attention over the past years, aiming to promote technology acceptance by better considering end-user needs. However, the still small market presence and a rather slow adoption of wearable robots for daily assistance, therapy, injury prevention, or human augmentation suggest that, besides limiting economic factors, most wearable robotic devices still lack real-life usability.
Insights from the recent COST Action Online Questionnaire for Developers of Exoskeletons for Walking (Oct 2018) showed that developers of lower limb wearable robots agree on the importance of usability, but struggle to achieve a structured, comparable usability evaluation due to an apparent lack of standards and guidelines for their context of use. Note that the results and analysis of the questionnaire have been published as: Assessing the Involvement of Users During Development of Lower Limb Wearable Robotic Exoskeletons: A Survey Study, link.
While lower limb exoskeletons might currently be the most popular type of wearable robots, it is time to expand the research on usability practices to upper-limb, lower-back, or full-body applications to investigate whether these application fields face the same challenges and to eventually propose ways to improve current evaluation practices.
Usability Evaluation Survey
With a survey dedicated to usability evaluation in wearable robotics, Jan Thomas Meyer, MSc,
Olivier Lambercy, and Roger Gassert, Prof. Dr. aim to help benchmark evaluation practices in the field and assist researchers/developers in the process of finding the right evaluation measures for their specific context of use. The three authors are affiliated with the Department of Health Sciences and Technology, Rehabilitation Engineering Lab (RELab), ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
The new survey is meant for those developing exoskeletons, or other wearable robots for augmentation, assistance or therapy. The authors ask for your help to shape evaluation guidelines and drive forward the field of wearable robotics by offering 15 minutes of your time to complete this survey:
Direct Link to the survey here:
More information on the research behind the survey can be found here:
About the authors:
Jan T. Meyer, MSc, is a PhD candidate at the Rehabilitation Engineering Laboratory, in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology at ETH Zurich. His research focuses on human-centered design and usability evaluation of wearable robotic assistive technology.
Olivier Lambercy, PhD, is a senior scientist at the Rehabilitation Engineering Laboratory, in the Department of Health Sciences and Technology at ETH Zurich. His research focuses on human-machine interaction and on robot-assisted rehabilitation and assessment after neurological injuries.
Roger Gassert, PhD, is a full professor of rehabilitation engineering at the Department of Health Sciences and Technology at ETH Zurich. His research focuses on robotics technology, wearable sensors and non-invasive neuroimaging for the exploration, assessment and restoration of sensorimotor function.