This year, Ottobock won the prestigious iF Design Award not just once but an impressive twice – delighting the international jury of experts with the innovative and user-friendly designs of its Paexo Back and Paexo Neck exoskeletons. The iF Design Award is conferred annually by the iF International Forum Design GmbH, an independent institution based in Hannover and the oldest of its kind worldwide. A large number of products were entered for the coveted award, with the jury having to choose from nearly 10,000 submissions from 52 different countries.
“When we develop products, our focus is always on the user,” explains Dr Sönke Rössing, head of Ottobock Industrials. “Functionality and comfort both play key roles. For example, Paexo exoskeletons reduce the load on your back when you lift heavy weights or ease shoulder strain when you perform overhead work – but at the same time, they don’t restrict your range of motion and can be adjusted intuitively.”
The Ottobock Industrials’ development team worked hand in hand with experts from Dresden University of Technology to design the award-winning products. Reflecting on the special complexities of the project, Emese Papp, a research assistant at the Faculty of Technical Design, explains, “Developing wearable exoskeletons is particularly challenging. That is why we embedded the work into our user experience research, to learn more about user acceptance and how people identify with wearable technology of this nature. The streamlined, progressive and professional design of the exoskeleton helps users feel competent and empowered, which in turn means they’re more likely to accept and wear the product.”
Relieving the strain of lifting or working overhead
The Paexo Back exoskeleton was developed especially for use in daily routines in the logistics sector. A new study conducted with workers in warehouses and parcel distribution centres shows that it can reduce the load on the spinal column by up to 100 %. The system operates according to a biomechanical principle ‒ as with a backpack, the load is supported on the shoulders and redirected to the thighs with the help of a support structure. Expanders exploit the “energy harvesting” process by storing the energy you generate when you bend over, and releasing it again when you straighten back up. As a result, Ottobock exoskeletons do not require high-maintenance batteries or motors.
The Paexo Neck is a neck support that relieves the strain when you perform any type of overhead work, such as installing ceilings or working in a high-bay warehouse. It significantly reduces the load on your neck muscles and cervical spine. Various adjustment options allow the shoulder and neck area to be individually adapted for each user. This makes the Paexo Neck very comfortable to wear. It can be comfortably combined with the Paexo Shoulder exoskeleton.
In 2012, Ottobock began researching solutions to provide relief for people who perform physically demanding tasks, the aim being to create healthier working conditions. The medtech company now offers a wide range of exoskeletons and ergonomics solutions. Further information is available at paexo.com.