Intelligent trousers support elderly in solving mobility problems

Roessingh Research and Development (RRD), Saxion University of Applied Sciences and various other European partners jointly developed intelligent trousers. A soft exoskeleton supporting elderly in walking or keeping balance by actively supporting their muscles

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In short

  • There are 40 million people in Europe who cannot walk without the support of, for example, a walker
  • Development of innovative trousers
Prototype showcased

Many older adults experience mobility problems at some point in time. For example, when standing up from a sitting position or when walking. The XoSoft exoskeleton supports the elderly in such situations, therefore enabling them to live longer independently at home. On Thursday, June 15, 2017, RDS and Saxion presented the first results of the project during the Grootste Kennisfestival van Nederland (Largest Knowledge Festival of the Netherlands) in Deventer. Part of the latest prototype was shown on a "mannequin robot" and visitors were able to experience for themselves how sensors measure body movements and convert them into live feedback to therapists.

Supported by sensors

3.1 million people over 65 currently reside in the Netherlands. In the coming years, this number will sharply rise to much as a quarter of the total population in 2040 (CBS). Already at this moment, there are 40 million people in Europe who cannot walk without the support of, for example, a walker. The XoSoft exoskeleton actively supports the wearer when moving, based on signals from sensors that measure the wearer's movement. The sensor information is also used to provide the wearer with feedback, but this information can also be shared with, for example, the accompanying physical therapist or treating physician. In contrast to the traditional exoskeletons that mainly consist of metal, the XoSoft exoskeleton is a comfortable, reinforced pair of trousers. It does not execute full movements itself, it merely supports the wearer – comparable to how an electric bike merely supports the bikers’ pedalling. Because of this supportive function, the XoSoft exoskeleton is intended to support seniors with starting mobility or balance problems or patients with a minor walking disability. A prototype of the XoSoft exoskeleton is currently being tested among the elderly. The final version is expected to be ready for use in January 2019.

 

The European Horizon 2020 program subsidises RRD and Saxion with 1.1 million euros. More partners in the project are located in Italy, Switzerland, Iceland, Spain, Germany and Ireland.RRD and Saxion play a role in the development of the trousers with supportive elements, the distributed measurement and feedback system, the recognition of activities and users’ intentions, and finally, in testing the trousers on patients.

 

Learn more about these innovative trousers. 

Date: 19 July 2017
Source of tekst: Roessingh
Author: Twente.com