First Step / Training surface for people with mobility disorder

Problem Statement

How can we support learning experience of novice exoskelton users?

Research Method

User Interview, Experience Simulation (body storming), Activity Theory

Tech

Physical computing (Arduino)

Design Process
Project Outcome

Design Process

Preliminary Research

I joined the team after the preliminary research. The team conducted interviews with exoskeleton users and found that paraplegics can experience strong anxiety when using an exoskeleton to walk for the first time. Without feeling in their legs, users struggle with not only balancing themselves, but also understanding when the exoskeleton will trigger motion, how the exoskeleton will push their legs, and where their feet will land. Therefore, our team focused on creating an intuitive, interactive training system which builds upon the parallel bar setup to help alleviate anxiety for first-time users of exoskeletons.


Sketch

Based on our research findings, we brainstormed and bodystormed various ideas, crystalized our vision, and sketched possible solutions. We mapped users' steps as input and LED lights on the board as output. Users have a natural tendency to look down and focus on their steps, which prevents them from observing their overall posture and motion. Thus, we use Kinect to capture such information so that users can review it later.

Scenario

We developed a scenario for our project as follows;
  1. A novice user is feeling anxious about how to walk with exoskelton. She needs training.
  2. She checkes visual instructions of our training board.
  3. Our training board never rushes. Once she feels ready, she can start.
  4. A LED light comes on, which indicates the optimal area on the board where the exoskeleton would push her leg.
  5. When she steps on the LED light, it makes sound to give her feedback.

Project Outcome

We developed an early stage prototype and tested it with able-bodied people.