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XoSoft – soft modular biomimetic exoskeleton to assist people with mobility impairments

At a glance

  • Project leader : Prof. Dr. Markus Wirz
  • Co-project leader : Dr. Eveline Graf, Dr. Konrad Stadler
  • Project team : Christoph Bauer, René Henke, Carole Pauli, Daniel Scherley
  • Project budget : CHF 1'372'044
  • Project status : completed
  • Funding partner : EU and other international programmes (Horizon 2020 / Projekt Nr. 688175)
  • Project partner : Össur hf, Malteser Waldkrankenhaus Erlangen gGmbH / Geriatrie-Zentrum, accelopment AG, Roessingh Research and Development, University of Limerick, Saxion University of Applied Sciences, Spanish National Research Council, Italian Institute of Technology
  • Contact person : Eveline Graf


Background: Between 2000 and 2050, the older population (80 years+) is projected to almost quadruple from approximately 100 million to 395 million people worldwide. Many of the elderly and patient groups such as stroke sufferers or patients with incomplete Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs) experience varying degrees of mobility impairment. Assistive devices play a pivotal role in their lives and impact on their ability to live independently and perform basic tasks of daily living. There are currently 3.2 million wheelchair users in Europe and further 40 million people who cannot walk without an aid. Yet most assistive devices, such as powered wheel chairs, do not encourage or support the activation of legs. XoSoft, to be developed by a consortium of five research groups and three companies with EU project experience in exoskeleton/assistive orthotics development, is a class I medical device for these and other user groups to answer their need for low to moderate mobility assistance.Objectives: The overall aim of this multidisciplinary research and innovation action is to develop a soft, modular, lower limb exoskeleton that elderly and disabled people with muscle weakness and/or a partial loss of sensory or motor function can wear to assist their leg strength and support, to increase their mobility and thereby improve their health and quality of life. XoSoft will employ smart soft robotics, biomimetic controlled actuation and connected health data feedback and interface. XoSoft will be:

  • A highly customisable modular system, comprising an ankle-foot-knee module which can be worn on one or on both sides and a hip module
  • Easy to wear, comfortable, serviceable and compatible with the daily life of the users
  • Making use of advanced textiles and smart materials to create sensing, variable stiffness joints and actuation
  • Controlled through biomimetics to identify the user’s motion and intention and to determine and provide the appropriate level of assistance
  • Equipped with integrated health connectivity and analysis features to enable the wearer and their clinicians/therapists to review activity information and to register deterioration of the conditions at an early stage
  • Developed with a user-centered design approach: following extensive testing in the lab, the concept is subject to trials in clinical settings and home environments.

Further information