Design of Wearable Tensegrity Structures Focusing on the Tension Propagation Function throughout the Body

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: Wakashima, Hiroki; Kishino, Kodai; Iizuka, Shinpei; Tamachi, Masahiro; Wesugi, Shigeru
Series: ICED
Institution: Waseda University
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 1287-1296
DOI number:


Humans are able to perform skilful movements by coordinating muscles throughout the body. It has been revealed that not only neural mechanisms but also direct and dynamic interactions between body parts contribute to muscular coordination. Tensegrity, accurately biotensegrity, can be considered to the basic mechanism for the interactions. Tensegrity structures are composed of tensile and compressive components, and are lighter and more flexible than existing rigid structures. The authors investigated designing wearable tensegrity structures for extending human motor ability, especially assisting in carrying heavy objects. Based on Flemons' spine model, we devised a columnar tensegrity structure that can be expanded to the size of the whole body, and connected each of four columns to the front and back of the body on right and left side. The wearable tensegrity structures can deform flexibly due to tension distribution when external force is applied, and follow the human motions in twisting trunk and walking. Experimental results in carrying heavy objects showed that some muscle activities around hip and knee tended to decrease by using the structures when those joints extended.

Keywords: Tensegrity, Motion assist, Design for interfaces, Bio-inspired design / biomimetics, Case study

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