Objective: To explore user-centered design methods currently implemented during development of lower limb wearable robots and how they are utilized during different stages of product development. Background: Currently, there appears to be a lack of standardized frameworks for evaluation methods and design requirements to implement effective user-centered design for safe and effective clinical or ergonomic system application. Method: Responses from a total of 191 experts working in the field of lower limb exoskeletons were analyzed in this exploratory survey. Descriptive statistics were used to present responses and measures of frequency, and chi-square tests were used to contrast the answers of respondents who identified as clinicians versus engineers. Results: A vast majority of respondents involve users in their development, in particular at the initial and iterative stages, although some differences were found between disciplines. A variety of methods and metrics are used to capture feedback from users and test devices, and although valuable, some methods used may not be based on validated measures. Guidelines regarding tests on safety of exoskeletons also lack standardization. Conclusion: There seems to be a consensus among experts regarding the importance of a user-centered approach in exoskeleton development; however, standardized frameworks with regard to appropriate testing methods and design approaches are lacking. Such frameworks should consider an interdisciplinary focus on the needs and safety of the intended user during each iteration of the process. Application: This exploratory study provides an overview of current practice among engineers and clinicians regarding the user-centered design of exoskeletons. Limitations and recommendations for future directions are identified.
- usability testing and evaluation
- user-centered design strategies
- wearable robots
- outcome measures