Learner Study

How does perceived usefulness of an exoskeleton change with virtual reality training?

We investigated how novices’ perception of exoskeleton usefulness changes with different types of exposure to an exoskeleton; and when the biomechanical benefits and limitations of potential exoskeleton use are presented to them. Twenty young, healthy participants completed this study. The three types of informational exposures to a back-support exoskeleton (BSE) were: (1) Information-based, (2) Virtual Reality (VR)-based, and (3) hands-on experience (lifting a box using the BSE), where users virtually and physically completed various lifting/lowering tasks set at shoulder, waist, and ankle heights in symmetric and asymmetric positions. After every trial in each exposure, perceived usefulness was obtained. Overall, perceived usefulness ratings generally varied with major task variables (load, lift height, and trunk angle). The VR-based exposure appeared to clarify the specific circumstances under which the BSE was perceived to be useful and reduced extreme biases (positive or negative) that individuals may have developed prior to trying on a BSE.