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Development of a design tool to optimise acceptance of exoskeletons by older adults

Shore, Linda



Older adults may have some prior use and knowledge of technology, but may also express or experience the digital divide, whereby the pace of emerging technology can present challenges to older adults and their ability to ‘keep up’. This can be a factor to device abandonment or loss in confidence to adopt the technology. The experience of ageing can be a positive one, with many older adults expressing the freedoms of mind and body when possible.
Exoskeletons and exosuits offer capacity to augment the ability and mobility of older adults who experience functional limitations. However, these emerging technologies also present challenges of acceptance and adoption by older adult users. It is critical that understanding and insights are incorporated throughout concept development phases as a means to optimise acceptance and adoption.
Study 1 explored and engaged with 22 older adult participants in order to observe and understand challenges to mobility and quality of life as we age. In addition, it implemented a number of design methods and collaborative approaches in order to share the findings from the fieldwork, culminating in a Co-Design Symposium.
Study 2 completed a narrative review regarding the Technology Acceptance Models and user centred design guidance in relation to older adults’ acceptance of exoskeletons.
Study 3 was an opportunity to conduct a second phase of fieldwork with 24 new older adult participants. The purpose of this fieldwork was to investigate the perceptions older adults have to emerging technologies, including exoskeletons.
Study 4 Upon completion and analysis of the fieldwork, novel outputs emerged that created the basis for a Pilot study with older adult participants and XoSoft exoskeleton in a lab setting.
Globally, as the ageing population currently continues to grow, the intervention of social robots and robotic assistive devices offers potential additional supports to independence and quality of life.
Gerontechnology ensures we, as designers or developers of emerging technologies include understanding of the older adults’ experience and acceptance as part of a user-centred design approach. Older adults have specific acceptance criteria regarding exoskeletons and exosuits, and to date, this is currently not widely understood or documented.
This research documents a ground theory approach, gaining knowledge, understanding and insights from older adults. It offers interpretations and analyses that have emerged as crucial factors to the development of an original approach to exoskeleton and exosuit development.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Mar 31, 2021
Public URL
Citations for Published Sections Shore, L. (2019) Development of a design tool to optimise acceptance of exoskeletons by older adults. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Limerick, Ireland
Award Date Nov 7, 2019