Abstract

This paper presents a novel class of human-worn manipulation aids for people with disabilities, and a paradigm for the cost-effective design and manufacture of such devices. These manipulation aids are passive multi-link articulated devices that are physically connected to and controlled by a human user. This physical connection enables proprioceptive feedback control of the end effector. Performance can be enhanced by task and user customization of such devices prior to manufacture. As illustrative examples, we consider two case studies of the design and prototyping of customized manipulation aids for quadriplegics. We explore the use of the virtual prototyping and interactive simulation tools by the designer to customize the designs, virtually analyze the user-product interactions and progressively refine these designed aids. This process is aided by a unified design environment that integrates such support tools as automated data acquisition and measurement, mechanism synthesis and optimization, creation of customized synthetic models of the human user, and the user-based refinement of the product performance.

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