Chas A Blatchford & Sons Ltd. | Exoskeleton

People are living longer and the aging population is increasing in size, however, natural aging still affects everyone. This creates a large population that not only has mobility problems, but who are also heavily dependent on the NHS. Hip fractures alone, predominantly as a result of older people falling, costs the NHS £6 million a day. Current mobility aids suffer from stigma which deters many users who would otherwise benefit from using them.

The E-Knee, in collaboration with Blatchford Ltd., was developed through focus groups, workshops, literature reviews and interviews with experts and prospective users. The research findings were developed into a set of design principles for designing for acceptability and trust, two large factors in the uptake of mobility aids. These principles shaped the way the exoskeleton was designed, focusing on inconspicuousness and using semiotics to facilitate trust and acceptance. To ensure the product allows the user to be independent, a mechanism was created to allow users with hand and back problems to be able to fit the device independently. A working passive design was created in order for prospective users to see the assistance and benefits of the product. Throughout the project, the design features were tested with users to validate the design concept and involve them in the process.

“For me it was very insightful to look from a complete different angle at product design and I got much inspiration/ideas by interacting with Rory.Nadine Stech, Blatchford & Sons Ltd.

Rory Southworth (Product Design BSc) in collaboration with Chas A Blatchford & Sons Ltd.