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Title:
SYSTEM FOR MOVEMENT CONTROL
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2020/234184
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A system for movement control comprises at least one movement device, each movement device comprising an elongate actuating element having at least a portion that is displaceable and/or stretchable along a longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element for applying a force to at least one body part of a user of the system. An elongate sensing element is arranged generally parallel to the elongate actuating element and has at least a portion that is configured to be displaced and/or stretched along a longitudinal direction of said elongate sensing element generally with displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element, for sensing the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element. An actuator is configured to actuate the elongate actuating element, and a sensor is configured to measure the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate sensing element.

Inventors:
VARGHESE REJIN (GB)
YANG GUANG-ZHONG (GB)
LIU JINDONG (GB)
Application Number:
EP2020/063699
Publication Date:
November 26, 2020
Filing Date:
May 15, 2020
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
IMP COLLEGE INNOVATIONS LTD (GB)
International Classes:
A61H1/02; A61H3/00; B25J9/00; B25J9/10
Foreign References:
KR101740310B12017-05-29
US20150088043A12015-03-26
EP3040064A12016-07-06
US20140026893A12014-01-30
DE102017116543A12019-01-24
EP3003231A12016-04-13
US9566173B22017-02-14
US10028697B22018-07-24
US20170281009A12017-10-05
Other References:
N. LIT. YANGP. YUJ. CHANGL. ZHAOX. ZHAOI. H. ELHAJJN. XIL. LIU: "Bio-inspired upper limb soft exoskeleton to reduce stroke-induced complications", BIOINSPIRATION & BIOMIMETICS, vol. 13, no. 6, 2018, pages 066001, XP020331738, DOI: 10.1088/1748-3190/aad8d4
S. LESSARDP. PANSODTEEA. ROBBINSL. B. BALTAXE-ADMONYJ. M. TROMBADOREM. TEODORESCUA. AGOGINOS. KURNIAWAN: "IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics", July 2017, IEEE, article "CRUX: A compliant robotic upper-extremity exosuit for lightweight, portable multi-joint muscular augmentation", pages: 1633 - 1638
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KILBURN & STRODE LLP (GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A system for movement control, comprising:

at least one movement device, each movement device comprising:

an elongate actuating element having at least a portion that is displaceable and/or stretchable along a longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element for applying a force to at least one body part of a user of the system;

an elongate sensing element arranged generally parallel to the elongate actuating element and having at least a portion that is configured to be displaced and/or stretched along a longitudinal direction of said elongate sensing element generally with displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element, for sensing the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element;

an actuator configured to actuate the elongate actuating element; and

a sensor configured to measure the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate sensing element.

2. A system as claimed in claim 1 , wherein the system comprises a plurality of movement devices, wherein at least one of the movement devices shares a single, common actuator and/or a single, common sensor with at least one other one of the movement devices.

3. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the system comprises four or more of said movement devices.

4. A system as claimed in claim 3, wherein the system has a longitudinal direction and the four or more of said movement devices are arranged to be approximately equally spaced relative to one another circumferentially about the longitudinal direction of the system.

5. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the actuator of each of the at least one movement devices comprises one or more motors, pneumatic pistons, hydraulic pistons, twisted string actuators, and/or shape memory materials.

6. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein in each of the at least one movement devices, the actuator is operable in a first direction such that the elongate actuating element is configured to apply an assistive force to at least one body part of a user of the system, and/or wherein the actuator is operable in a second direction that is opposite to the first direction such that the elongate actuating element is configured to apply a resistive force to at least one body part of a user of the system.

7. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the sensor of each of the at least one movement devices comprises a string potentiometer.

8. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the system comprises one or more supplementary sensors, the one or more supplementary sensors comprising one or more kinematic sensors, for example one or more electromyography sensors and/or one or more inertial measurement unit sensors.

9. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the at least one movement device comprises a plurality of movement devices, and wherein at least one of the plurality of movement devices is arranged to be convergent or divergent relative to at least one other one of the plurality of movement devices along their respective lengths.

10. A system as claimed in claim 9, wherein at least one of the plurality of movement devices is arranged to be at an angle of 20 degrees or less relative to at least one other one of the plurality of movement devices.

11. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate actuating element is substantially inelastic along the longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element.

12. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the at least one movement device comprises a plurality of movement devices, and wherein at least two of the movement devices are arranged to be opposite one another and are configured to work as a pair in an agonist/antagonist configuration, such that when one of the movement devices in said pair is extended, the other of the movement devices in said pair is configured to retract, and vice versa.

13. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein each of the at least one movement devices comprises at least one sheath arranged to house at least a portion of the elongate actuating element and at least a portion of the elongate sensing element, said elongate actuating element and said elongate sensing element being displaceable and/or stretchable relative to said at least one sheath.

14. A system as claimed in claim 13, wherein at least a portion of said at least one sheath, said elongate actuating element and/or said elongate sensing element is coated with a low-friction material, such as PTFE or nylon.

15. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein each of the at least one movement devices is arranged generally along a line of maximal extension of a region of a joint of a user of the system, said line of maximal extension being determined by performing motion tracking experiments and strain-field or similar analysis and/or applying optimisation or learning algorithms to fine-tune the lines across the region of the joint.

16. A system as claimed in any of the preceding claims, wherein:

the system further comprises a first coupling element and a second coupling element for being worn on one or more body parts of a user of the system;

each of the elongate actuating elements and elongate sensing elements has a respective first end that is fixedly coupled to the first coupling element;

each of the elongate actuating elements has a respective second end that is coupled to the second coupling element via its respective actuator; and

each of the elongate sensing elements has a respective second end that is coupled to the second coupling element via its respective sensor.

17. A system for movement control, comprising:

at least four movement devices, each movement device comprising: an elongate actuating element having at least a portion that is displaceable and/or stretchable along a longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element for applying a force to at least one body part of a user of the system; and

an actuator configured to actuate the elongate actuating element; wherein:

each of the elongate actuating elements is arranged for being generally parallel to and/or generally coincident to, or generally convergent or generally divergent at an angle of 20° or less relative to, a common effective line of actuation of a pair of muscles of a user of the system; and

the system has a longitudinal direction and the at least four movement devices are arranged to be approximately equally spaced relative to one another circumferentially about the longitudinal direction of the system.

18. A system as claimed in claim 17, wherein each of the movement devices each further comprises:

an elongate sensing element arranged generally parallel to the elongate actuating element and having at least a portion that is configured to be displaced and/or stretched along a longitudinal direction of said elongate sensing element generally with displacement and/or stretch of the actuating element, for sensing the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element; and

a sensor configured to measure the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate sensing element.

19. A system for movement control, comprising:

at least four movement devices, each movement device comprising: an elongate sensing element having at least a portion that is configured to be displaced and/or stretched along a longitudinal direction of said elongate sensing element for sensing a force applied to and/or the movement of at least one body part of a user of the system; and

a sensor configured to measure the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate sensing element;

wherein:

each of the elongate sensing elements is arranged for being generally parallel to and/or generally coincident to, or generally convergent or generally divergent at an angle of 20° or less relative to, a common effective line of actuation of a pair of muscles of a user of the system; and

the system has a longitudinal direction and the at least four movement devices are arranged to be approximately equally spaced relative to one another circumferentially about the longitudinal direction of the system.

20. A system as claimed in any of claims 17 to 19, wherein each of the movement devices is arranged generally along a line of maximal extension of a region of a joint of a user of the system, said line of maximal extension being determined by performing motion tracking experiments and strain-field or similar analysis and/or applying optimisation or learning algorithms to fine-tune the lines across the region of the joint.

21. A system as claimed in any of claims 17 to 20, wherein at least two of the movement devices are arranged to be opposite one another and are configured to work as a pair in an agonist/antagonist configuration, such that when one of the movement devices in said pair is extended, the other of the movement devices in said pair is configured to retract, and vice versa.

22. A system as claimed in claim 19, wherein each of the movement devices each further comprises:

an elongate actuating element arranged generally parallel to the elongate sensing element and having at least a portion that is displaceable and/or stretchable along a longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element for applying a force to at least one body part of a user of the system; and

an actuator configured to actuate the elongate actuating element.

23. A system as claimed in of claims 17 to 22, wherein at least one of the movement devices is arranged to be convergent or divergent relative to at least one other one of the movement devices along their respective lengths.

24. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the system further comprises one or more support elements configured to reinforce the at least one movement device and/or to route the at least one movement device.

25. A system as claimed in claim 24, wherein the one or more support elements each comprises one or more of a hook, a loop, a hole, a peg, or a clamp, for receiving, routing and reinforcing the at least one movement device.

26. A system as claimed in claim 24 or claim 25, wherein the one or more support elements are arranged proximate to/on the outer surface of a body part of a user of the system, and preferably wherein the arrangement of the one or more support elements and/or the arrangement of the movement devices is determined using one or more of motion tracking experiments, strain-field analysis, and optimisation of the lines of non extension, maximal extension, and/or minimal extension of one or more muscles or the surface around the joint of a body part of a user of the system.

27. A system as claimed in any one of claims 24 to 26, wherein the one or more support elements each comprises a polymer material and a layer comprising a gel, foam and/or a liquid and/or a fluid.

28. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the system is configured to be worn on and to control the movement of a joint of a user of the system, such as a shoulder, hip, ankle, torso, wrist, finger, thumb, neck, elbow or knee joint.

29. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the positioning, orientation and layout of the elements making up the system is determined using an algorithm based on optimisation, motion capture experiments and/or strain field analysis.

30. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein at least two of the movement devices are arranged in a pair to intersect/cross over one another, such that they are configured to provide for 3 degree of freedom movement control by the system facilitating twisting movement of a body part of a user of the system.

31. A system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein each of the movement devices comprises a plurality of actuators and/or a plurality of sensors.

32. A system as claimed in any of claims 17 to 27, wherein at least one of the movement devices shares a single, common actuator and/or a single, common sensor with at least one other one of the movement devices.

33. An exoskeleton or exosuit comprising at least one system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, and a garment, such as a compression garment, arranged to be worn underneath the at least one system.

34. A method of controlling the movement of a body part of a user of a system as claimed in any one of claims 1 to 32, wherein the method comprises:

arranging each of the at least one movement devices to be generally parallel and/or generally coincident with a common effective line of actuation of a pair of muscles of said body part.

35. A method as claimed in claim 34, wherein the method further comprises configuring each of the at least one movement devices to be generally along a line of maximal extension of a region of a joint of said body part.

36. A method as claimed in claim 34 or 35, wherein the system comprises four of said movement devices: a first movement device, a second movement device, a third movement device, and a fourth movement device, and the method further comprises: arranging the first movement device to be generally parallel to and/or generally coincident with a common effective line of actuation of a first muscle and a second muscle of a user of the system;

arranging the second movement device to be generally parallel to and/or generally coincident with a common effective line of actuation of the second muscle and a third muscle of said user of the system;

arranging the third movement device to be generally parallel to and/or generally coincident with a common effective line of actuation of the third muscle and a fourth muscle of said user of the system; and

arranging the fourth movement device to be generally parallel to and/or generally coincident with a common effective line of actuation of the fourth muscle and a fifth muscle of said user of the system.

37. A method as claimed in claim 36, wherein the first muscle is a pectoralis major, the second muscle is an anterior deltoid, the third muscle is a lateral deltoid, the fourth muscle is a posterior deltoid, and the fifth muscle is a teres major or a latissimus dorsi, such that the method is for controlling a shoulder joint of a user of the system.

Description:
SYSTEM FOR MOVEMENT CONTROL

FIELD

The present disclosure relates to systems for movement control, as well as exoskeletons or exosuits comprising such systems. A method of controlling the movement of a body part of a user of said systems is also disclosed.

BACKGROUND

A significant fraction of the world population suffers from conditions affecting motor function. Additionally, an increasing percentage of the global ageing population has resulted in an increased number of people suffering from muscular weakness as well. The time-consuming, expensive and repetitive rehabilitation traditionally performed by therapists is now making way for robot-based therapy. Traditional rigid-bodied designs inherently have limitations like increased size/weight, lack of compliance, restrictive movements, and introducing biomechanical misalignments. Namely, rigid-bodied designs can be bulky, restrictive, and are not portable.

For wearable systems, sensing networks are crucial to acquire physiological, non-physiological and intention-based data, design user-specific assistance strategies, and get a clear understanding of the state of the human-suit system. Research works have explored different soft joint sensing systems including fabric-based sensing, dielectric elastomers, micro-fluidics, and liquid metal alloys, along with traditional sensors like flex/bend sensors, and Internal Measurement Units (IMUs). Most of these systems suffer from hysteresis, limited range and other non-linearities.

EP3003231A1 describes a motion control system including an actuator having an actuation member, the actuation member having a proximal end attached to the actuator on a first side of a joint and a distal end attached to an anchor element attachment point on a second side of the joint. A first sensor is configured to output signals defining a gait cycle and a second sensor is configured to output signals representing a tensile force in the at least one actuation member. A controller receives the output signals from the sensors and actuates the actuator, during a first portion of the gait cycle, to apply a force greater than a predetermined threshold tensile force to the anchor element attachment point via the actuation member to generate a beneficial moment about the joint and to automatically actuate the actuator. US9566173B2 describes a motion control device. The device comprises one or more frames which supports an exoskeleton of a body; a string which connects the frames with each other; a pulley which is disposed between the frames and connected to one end of the string; and a motor which is connected to the other end of the string to control the string, wherein the pulley rotates the string according to control of the motor.

N. Li, T. Yang, P. Yu, J. Chang, L. Zhao, X. Zhao, I. H. Elhajj, N. Xi, and L. Liu,“Bio-inspired upper limb soft exoskeleton to reduce stroke-induced complications,” Bioinspiration & biomimetics, vol. 13, no. 6, p. 066001 , 2018, describes a soft bionic exoskeleton robot with 7 degrees of freedom.

S. Lessard, P. Pansodtee, A. Robbins, L. B. Baltaxe-Admony, J. M. Trombadore, M. Teodorescu, A. Agogino, and S. Kurniawan, “CRUX: A compliant robotic upper-extremity exosuit for lightweight, portable multi-joint muscular augmentation,” in IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics. IEEE, jul 2017, pp. 1633-1638, describes a compliant, robotic exosuit for upper extremities.

US10028697B2 describes systems and techniques for a motion capture system and a three- dimensional (3D) tracking system used to record body position and/or movements/motions and using the data to measure skin strain (a strain field) all along the body while a joint is in motion (dynamic) as well as in a fixed position (static). The data and technique can be used to quantify strains, calculate 3D contours, and derive patterns believed to reveal skin's properties during natural motions.

US20170281009A1 describes a system and method for measuring surface deformation and strain using digital image correlation of a surface of a test object. A data acquisition system acquires images of the surface. The surface has a unique surface pattern to facilitate image acquisition. The images are grouped into one or more image sets. Three dimensional image correlation is performed on each of the image sets to determine deformation and strain data. The deformation and strain data from the image sets are stitched into one dataset. Principal strains and lines of non-extension (LoNEs) directions are determined. One or more LoNEs streamlines and lines of maximum and minimum extensions are determined. Visualizations for the strain magnitudes, LoNE streamlines, maximum and minimum extension streamlines are generated in three dimensions.

The present disclosure seeks to alleviate, at least to a certain degree, the problems and/or to address at least to a certain extent, the difficulties associated with the prior art. The present disclosure seeks to provide a multi-degree of freedom (DoF) exosuit device having a bio-inspired sensing and actuation framework. Proprioception is the sense of the relative position and movement of the different parts of the body, force/effort, and balance. The change and rate-change in length of the nerve endings in muscle spindles scattered within skeletal muscle (and not direct sensing at the joint) is responsible for this sense of the body’s position and movement. The sensing framework in the exosuit device aims to replicate the mechanism behind the human sense of proprioception to sense the joint angles of a joint such as a shoulder simultaneously and may be used by the ageing population and/or astronauts to provide multi-DoF assistance for the activities of daily living (ADL). Analogous to the human body, the bio-inspired exosuit device architecture may be capable of multi-DoF joint assistance while having the capability for online misalignment and backlash compensation.

SUMMARY

According to a first aspect of the disclosure, there is provided a system for movement control, comprising:

at least one movement device, each movement device comprising:

an elongate actuating element having at least a portion that is displaceable and/or stretchable along a longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element for applying a force to at least one body part of a user of the system;

an elongate sensing element arranged generally parallel to the elongate actuating element and having at least a portion that is configured to be displaced and/or stretched along a longitudinal direction of said elongate sensing element generally with displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element, for sensing the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element;

an actuator configured to actuate the elongate actuating element; and

a sensor configured to measure the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate sensing element.

Advantageously, in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate sensing element may provide for the determination of the real displacement and the amount of any stretch that may be induced in the elongate actuating element, thus providing for the prediction and compensation of backlash in the elongate actuating element. Additionally, the elongate sensing element may provide for the sensing of misalignment in the movement device, and to compensate for variations in the alignment of the movement device on a body part of a user using the system during sustained regular operation. In addition, the elongate sensing element in combination with any other elongate sensing elements arranged around the body part may provide for the detection of the position of the muscles of a body part of a user using the system, advantageously simulating the human sense of proprioception and the human muscle system in general, to provide improved movement control of said user. The elongate sensing element may provide for a complete and intuitive sensing system, and may be used to drive the actuator and the elongate sensing element, the system simulating the human sense of proprioception.

Furthermore, since such a system is able to provide both sensing and actuating capabilities, such a system may allow for the provision of haptic feedback, for example when each of the elongate actuating elements applies a small force to at least one body part of a user of the system. This may be particularly advantageous for applications for surgeons or other specialists who could control such robots while getting accurate force feedback through the elongate actuating elements. This could also be particularly advantageous for applications such as the ability to apply passive forces thereby enabling gravity compensation for a user of the system. This could be useful for people such as industry workers, manual labourers, surgeons etc., who work in one position for many hours: such a system could advantageously provide for the offloading of the weight of the limbs of such a person, thus enabling them to work for longer hours and/or to work with reduced effort and/or fatigue.

Advantageously, such a system may thus be advantageously employed in applications such as: assistive applications for the ageing population, the military and/or industry workers; resistive applications for physical therapy, portable/wearable gym equipment, and/or for astronauts; full-body haptic interface/teleoperation exosuits for people such as astronauts or surgeons to control robotic devices; and/or gravity compensation for people such as surgeons and/or industry workers.

Optionally, the system comprises a plurality of movement devices, wherein at least one of the movement devices shares a single, common actuator and/or a single, common sensor with at least one other one of the movement devices.

Advantageously, this can provide that the number of actuators and/or the number of sensors can be reduced, for example halved, to provide a system that is more lightweight and cheaper to manufacture.

Optionally, in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate actuating element comprises a wire or cable and/or the elongate sensing element comprises a wire or cable. Optionally, in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate actuating element and/or the elongate sensing element has a generally circular cross-section.

Optionally, in each at least one movement device, said force applied to at least one body part of a user of the system by the respective elongate element is a tensile force.

Optionally, in each at least one movement device, the at least one body part of a user using the system to which a force is applied by the respective elongate element is at least one muscle, for example a pair of adjacent muscles.

Optionally, in each at least one movement device, the at least one body part of a user using the system to which a force is applied by the respective elongate element is at least one joint, for example a knee, ankle, shoulder or wrist.

Optionally, the at least one body part of a user using the system to which a force is applied by the respective elongate element comprises a plurality of muscles.

Optionally, the at least one movement device comprises a plurality of movement devices.

Optionally, at least two of the movement devices are arranged to be opposite one another.

Optionally, at least two of the movement devices are arranged to be opposite one another about the longitudinal direction of the system..

Optionally, at least two of the movement devices are arranged to be diagonally opposite one another about the longitudinal direction of the system.

Optionally, at least two of the movement devices are arranged to be opposite one another and are configured to work as a pair in an agonist/antagonist configuration, such that when one of the movement devices in said pair is extended, the other of the movement devices in said pair retracts, and vice versa.

Optionally, the plurality of movement devices comprises an even number of movement devices, with the movement devices arranged in pairs, wherein in each pair, the two movement devices making up that pair are arranged to be opposite one another, preferably diagonally opposite one another, and are configured to work in an agonist/antagonist configuration, such that when one of the movement devices in said pair is extended, the other of the movement devices in said pair retracts, and vice versa.

Advantageously, oppositely arranged movement devices may thus provide for misalignment compensation, by working in an agonist/antagonist configuration.

Optionally, the two movement devices making up each pair may be connected to a single, shared actuator.

Optionally, the two movement devices making up each pair may be connected to a single, shared sensor.

Advantageously, such a layout can halve the number of required actuators and/or sensors, thus making the entire system more lightweight and cheaper to manufacture.

Optionally, the plurality of movement devices are arranged to be generally parallel to one another.

Optionally, at least one of the plurality of movement devices is arranged to be generally parallel to at least one other one of the plurality of movement devices.

Optionally, at least one of the plurality of movement devices is arranged to be convergent or divergent relative to at least one other one of the plurality of movement devices along their respective lengths.

Optionally, at least one of the plurality of movement devices is arranged to be convergent or divergent by an angle of 20 degrees or less relative to at least one other one of the plurality of movement devices.

Optionally, at least one of the plurality of movement devices is arranged to be convergent or divergent by an angle of 15 degrees or less relative to at least one other one of the plurality of movement devices.

Advantageously, arranging one or more of the movement devices to be convergent or divergent relative to at least one other one of the movement devices (i.e. to be at an angle relative to one another) can provide for a difference in the horizontal components of the forces applied by the elongate actuating elements in the movement devices. Advantageously, this difference can be utilised to provide for misalignment correction/compensation.

Optionally, the system comprises four or more of said movement devices, for example, four movement devices. Advantageously, such a system may provide for 2 DoF (2 degree of freedom) movement of a body part of a user of the system. Additionally, such a system may have improved balance and symmetry, and may provide for improved compensation for misalignments. Having four movement devices may advantageously provide for an optimum balance of maximising the balance and symmetry of the system, to compensate for misalignments, while minimising the weight and volume of the system, thus increasing the portability of the system. In particular, such a system may have the ability to distribute the forces across more movement devices and surface area for improved range and load-bearing; the ability to compensate for dynamic radial and longitudinal misalignments actively in both DoFs; the ability to compensate for backlash in the elongate actuating elements by using the elongate sensing elements as a benchmark; and/or for smoother control for random movements in both DoFs.

Optionally, the four or more of said movement devices are arranged to be generally parallel to one another.

Optionally, at least one of the four or more of said movement devices is arranged to be generally parallel to at least one other one of the at least four or more of said movement devices.

Optionally, at least one of the four or more of said movement devices is arranged to be convergent or divergent relative to at least one other one of the at least four or more of said movement devices along their respective lengths.

Optionally, at least one of the four or more of said movement devices is arranged to be convergent or divergent by an angle of 20 degrees or less relative to at least one other one of the at least four or more of said movement devices.

Optionally, at least one of the four or more of said movement devices is arranged to be convergent or divergent by an angle of 15 degrees or less relative to at least one other one of the at least four or more of said movement devices.

Optionally, the system comprises six or more of said movement devices, for example, six movement devices. Advantageously, such a system may provide for 3 DoF (3 degree of freedom) movement of a body part of a user of the system, to provide for the rotational control of said body part. Additionally, such a system may have improved balance and symmetry, and may provide for improved compensation for misalignments.

Optionally, at least two of the movement devices are arranged in a pair to intersect/cross over one another. Advantageously, such an arrangement may provide for twisting movement of a body part of a user of the system, thus providing for 3 DoF movement control by the system.

Optionally, the system has a longitudinal direction and the four or more of said movement devices are arranged to be approximately equally spaced relative to one another circumferentially about the longitudinal direction of the system. Advantageously, such a system may provide for improved compensation for misalignments. This is because adjacent movement devices may be able to help compensate for misalignment, while opposite movement devices may be able to work in an agonist/antagonist configuration. For example, if the system has four movement devices arranged to be approximately equally spaced relative to one another circumferentially about the longitudinal direction of the system (i.e. at approximately 90 degrees from each other about the longitudinal direction of the system), then adjacent movement devices may help compensate for misalignment, while opposite movement devices may be able to work in an agonist/antagonist configuration. Additionally, such an arrangement of the four or more of said movement devices may provide for complete coverage of the at least one body part of a user of the system. Furthermore, such an arrangement of the four or more of said movement devices may advantageously provide that the system may be generalised to any complex joint. As another example, if the system has five movement devices arranged to be approximately equally spaced relative to one another circumferentially about the longitudinal direction of the system, then they would be spaced apart by approximately 72 degrees from each other about the longitudinal direction of the system. As yet another example, if the system has six movement devices arranged to be approximately equally spaced relative to one another circumferentially about the longitudinal direction of the system, then they would be spaced apart by approximately 60 degrees from each other about the longitudinal direction of the system.

Optionally, the system may comprise a plurality of movement devices, and the system may comprise a single actuator. In other words, each of the elongate actuating elements of the plurality of movement devices may be actuated by the same actuator. Optionally, the system may comprise a plurality of movement devices, and the system may comprise a single sensor. In other words, each of the elongate sensing elements of the plurality of movement devices may be measured by the same sensor.

Optionally, the actuator of each of the at least one movement devices comprises one or more motors, pneumatic pistons, hydraulic pistons, twisted string actuators, and/or shape memory materials.

Optionally, in each of the at least one movement device, the elongate actuating element may be coupled to and actuated by a plurality of actuators, and/or the elongate sensing element may be coupled to and sensed by a plurality of sensors.

Optionally, each of the movement devices comprises a plurality of actuators and/or a plurality of sensors.

Optionally, the actuator of each of the at least one movement devices comprises one or more motors, pneumatic pistons, hydraulic pistons, twisted string actuators, and/or shape memory materials.

Optionally, in each of the at least one movement devices, the motor may comprise a shaft, spool and/or reel element, configured to allow one end of the elongate actuating element to be windable and/or coilable about said shaft, spool and/or reel element, with displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element about a longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element. Advantageously, such a system may provide that in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate actuating element may be wound up at one end thereof, the shaft, spool and/or reel element of the motor providing for the elongate actuating element to be wound around said shaft, spool and/or reel element, to facilitate the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element about a longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element.

Optionally, the system further comprises a transmission configured to drive the motors of each of the at least one movement devices.

Optionally, the system further comprises a transmission configured to drive the actuators of each of the at least one movement devices. Optionally, the system further comprises a controller, for example an Arduino microcontroller board, in signal communication with the respective actuator and the respective sensor of each of the at least one movement devices. Advantageously, this may provide a control system wherein in each of the at least one movement devices, the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element may be managed and/or determined and/or controlled as desired, according to the sensor’s measurement of the displacement and/or stretch of the corresponding respective elongate sensing element.

Optionally, the system further comprises one or more supplementary sensors, which may comprise one or more cameras or EMG (electromyography) or other kinematic sensors, such as IMU (inertial measurement unit) sensors. Advantageously, the one or more supplementary sensors, for example IMU sensors, may provide for additional monitoring of the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating elements of each of the at least one movement devices. This may provide for improved control and prediction of the desired movements of said elongate actuating elements, thus providing for a complete and intuitive sensing system for driving the elongate actuating elements.

Optionally, the system further comprises a plurality of visual markers, such as reflective markers, for detection, observation and/or tracking by said one or more cameras.

Optionally, the system further comprises a power source, for example a battery, a pressurised air tank and/or an energy storage source, for supplying power to the respective sensors and actuators of each of the at least one movement devices, the transmission, the controller, and/or the one or more supplementary sensors. Advantageously, such a system may have improved portability.

Optionally, in each of the at least one movement devices, the actuator is operable in a first direction such that the elongate actuating element is configured to apply an assistive force to at least one body part of a user of the system, and/or the actuator is operable in a second direction that is opposite to the first direction such that the elongate actuating element is configured to apply a resistive force to at least one body part of a user of the system.

Optionally, in each of the at least one movement devices, the actuator is operable in a first direction such that the elongate actuating element is configured to apply an assistive force to at least one body part of a user of the system, and/or the actuator is operable in a second direction that is opposite to the first direction such that the elongate actuating element is configured to apply a resistive force to at least one body part of a user of the system. Optionally, in each of the at least one movement devices, the motor is operable in a first direction such that the elongate actuating element is configured to apply an assistive force to at least one body part of a user of the system , and/or the motor is operable in a second direction that is opposite to the first direction such that the elongate actuating element is configured to apply a resistive force to at least one body part of a user of the system.

Advantageously, this may provide that each of the at least one movement devices may be operable in a first mode, corresponding with the first direction of the actuator (e.g. motor), to provide assistance to the movement of a body part of a user using the system, and/or may be operable in a second mode, corresponding with the second direction of the actuator (e.g. motor), to provide resistance against the movement of a body part of a user using the system. In other words, in the first mode, the elongate actuating element may be configured to apply a force to at least one body part of a user of the system in the same direction as the user’s desired direction of movement of said at least one body part. Whereas, in the second mode, the elongate actuating element may be configured to apply a force to at least one body part of a user of the system in a direction that is opposite to (i.e. against) the user’s desired direction of movement of said at least one body part. Accordingly, the system may advantageously be used for assistive and/or resistive applications.

Optionally, the sensor of each of the at least one movement devices comprises a displacement, stretch, or strain sensor, such as a kinematic sensor.

Optionally, the sensor of each of the at least one movement devices comprises a string potentiometer.

Optionally, the sensor of each of the at least one movement devices comprises a spring configured to apply a tensile force to the elongate sensing element. Advantageously, the spring may provide that the elongate sensing element may work in both directions, that is, that it may be kept taut (i.e. in tension) at all times, thereby allowing for the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate sensing element to be measured by the sensor more accurately. Advantageously, this may provide that the elongate sensing element can provide for an improved indication of the amount of displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element.

Optionally, in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate actuating element is substantially inelastic along the longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element. Advantageously, this may provide that in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate actuating element may be stiff enough to only experience displacement along a longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element, with only a minimal amount of stretch or elongation along said longitudinal direction. This may advantageously provide that said elongate actuating element can more effectively apply a force to at least one body part of a user of the system, without stretching itself.

Optionally, in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate actuating element comprises a material that is substantially inelastic along the longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element, such as stainless steel, silk, nylon, a metal, or a polymer.

Optionally, in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate sensing element is substantially inelastic along the longitudinal direction of said elongate sensing element. Advantageously, in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate sensing element may thus be configured to be displaceable along its respective longitudinal direction by an amount that is substantially equal to the amount by which the elongate actuating element is displaceable along its respective longitudinal direction.

Optionally, in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate sensing element is elastic along the longitudinal direction of said elongate sensing element. Advantageously, in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate sensing element may thus be configured to be stretched along its respective longitudinal direction with displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element along its respective longitudinal direction.

The elongate sensing element may comprise a plurality of fibres comprising electrodes and/or fibre optics. Advantageously, such fibres may provide that in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate sensing element may provide for improved measurement in the change in stretch and/or displacement of the elongate sensing element.

The elongate sensing element may comprise a first portion and a second portion, the first portion of the elongate sensing element being arranged to be generally parallel to the corresponding respective elongate actuating element, and the second portion of the elongate sensing element comprising a plurality of fibres arranged to be spaced apart from one another and to extend away from an endpoint of the first portion of said elongate sensing element. Advantageously, such an elongate sensing element may be inspired by the natural human muscle fibre layout and may have the ability to sense both pressure and stretch. Sensing data obtained from the fibres may correspond to the data obtained from a single muscle fused together. Advantageously, such an elongate sensing element may thus provide for improved cross-coverage of a joint/body part of a user using the system. Advantageously, this may provide for systems and exosuits including such systems that have reduced volume, portability and weight, and also the ability to add haptic capability.

Optionally, each of the at least one movement devices comprises at least one sheath arranged to house at least a portion of the elongate actuating element and at least a portion of the elongate sensing element, said elongate actuating element and said elongate sensing element being displaceable and/or stretchable relative to said at least one sheath. Advantageously, in each of the at least one movement devices, the at least one sheath, the elongate actuating element and the elongate sensing element may be configured to be operated as a Bowden cable arrangement, the elongate actuating element and the elongate sensing element being configured to move inside and relative to the at least one sheath, such that mechanical force or energy can be transmitted by the movement of the elongate actuating element and the elongate sensing element relative to the at least one sheath. Furthermore, the at least one sheath may help ensure that the elongate actuating element and the elongate sensing element are arranged generally parallel to one another and thus are arranged to follow the same path.

Optionally, the at least one sheath may comprise one sheath and at least a portion of the elongate actuating element and at least a portion of the elongate sensing element may be housed within said one sheath, said elongate actuating element and said elongate sensing element being displaceable and/or stretchable relative to said one sheath.

Optionally, the at least one sheath may comprise a first sheath and a second sheath, the first sheath being arranged to house at least a portion of the elongate actuating element, and the second sheath being arranged to house at least a portion of the elongate sensing element, said elongate actuating element being displaceable and/or stretchable relative to said first sheath, and said elongate sensing element being displaceable and/or stretchable relative to said second sheath.

Optionally, at least a portion of said at least one sheath, said elongate actuating element and/or said elongate sensing element is coated with a low-friction material, such as PTFE or nylon. Advantageously, in each of the at least one movement devices, this may provide for reduced friction between the at least one sheath and the elongate actuating element and/or the elongate sensing element.

Optionally, each of the at least one movement devices is arranged generally along a line of maximal extension of a region of a joint of a user of the system. Said line of maximal extension may be determined by performing motion tracking experiments and strain-field or similar analysis and/or applying optimisation or learning algorithms to fine-tune the lines across the region of the joint. Advantageously, this may provide that in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate actuating element may more effectively apply a force to at least one body part of a user of the system. This is because in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate actuating element may be configured to apply a pulling force to at least one body part of a user of the system. By arranging each of the at least one movement devices generally along a line of maximal extension of a region of a joint of a user of the system, the more displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element along a longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element may be possible. This may therefore be the most suitable line along which to arrange each of the at least one movement devices, so as to most effectively apply a force to at least one body part of a user of the system. Furthermore, this may provide that the support elements can function to distribute the forces experienced by them from the movement devices, so that the user can experience lower and more distributed forces, whilst routing the movement devices effectively while eliminating the possibility of the movement devices adversely pressing into the user.

Optionally, the system further comprises a first coupling element and a second coupling element for being worn on one or more body parts of a user of the system; each of the elongate actuating elements and elongate sensing elements has a respective first end that is fixedly coupled to the first coupling element; each of the elongate actuating elements has a respective second end that is coupled to the second coupling element via its respective actuator; and each of the elongate sensing elements has a respective second end that is coupled to the second coupling element via its respective sensor.

Optionally, each of the respective actuators is a motor and each of the respective sensors is a string potentiometer, the respective second end of each of the elongate actuating elements is rotationally coupled to the second coupling element via its respective motor, and the respective second end of each of the elongate sensing elements is rotationally coupled to the second coupling element via its respective string potentiometer.

Optionally, the first ends of each of the elongate actuating elements and/or the first ends of each of the elongate sensing elements may terminate in a plurality of points, for example by being frayed or otherwise separated at each of said first ends. Advantageously, this may provide that the system can provide for improved force distribution to multiple movement devices such that they do not pull on any straps, garments or any other soft fabric components of the system with excessive force and cause damage/tearing to them. This could also advantageously result in broader coverage of data obtained from the body by the elongate sensing elements and the corresponding sensors.

Optionally, the first coupling element and/or the second coupling element each comprises a strap and/or garment configured to be worn by at least one body part of a user of the system.

Optionally, the system further comprises a strap and/or garment configured to be worn by at least one body part of a user of the system, said strap and/or garment comprising said first coupling element and said second coupling element.

Optionally, said body part comprises a joint, for example a shoulder, wrist, ankle, hip, torso, neck, elbow, knee or finger joint.

Optionally, the system is configured to be worn on and to control the movement of a shoulder joint of a user of the system, and the first coupling element comprises a first strap configured to be worn around an arm of said user, e.g. above an elbow, and the second coupling element comprises a second strap configured to be worn on the back of said user.

Optionally, the first strap and/or the second strap may comprise nylon. Advantageously, such straps may provide for improved toughness of the first and second coupling elements.

Optionally, the second coupling element may comprise a volume for receiving the actuators and the sensors of each of the at least one movement devices. Optionally, said volume may further be for receiving the controller, power source, transmission and/or the one or more supplementary sensors. Optionally, said volume of the second coupling element may comprise a pocket, a backpack, a rucksack, a bag, or the like.

Optionally, in each of the at least one movement devices, the at least one sheath may be arranged to at least partially extend from the first coupling element to the second coupling element. Advantageously, in each of the at least one movement devices, such an at least one sheath may provide for a closed architecture of said movement device, wherein the elongate actuating element and the elongate sensing element are housed by the at least one sheath along their respective lengths between the first and second coupling elements, advantageously providing for protection of the elongate actuating and sensing elements.

Optionally, the system may further comprise one or more support elements configured to reinforce the at least one movement device and/or to route the at least one movement device. Optionally, the one or more support elements each comprises one or more of a hook, a loop, a hole, a peg, or a clamp, for receiving, routing and reinforcing the at least one movement device. Optionally, the one or more support elements are substantially rigid. Optionally, the one or more support elements are arranged proximate to/on the outer surface of a body part of a user of the system. Advantageously, the one or more support elements may provide for the distribution of forces and provide rigid support for the at least one movement device and its arrangement/routing. In addition, the one or more support elements may help ensure that the at least one movement device follows the skin/surface/contours of the body of a user using the system, thus advantageously making the system low-profile, therefore enhancing its portability, wearability, and ease of use.

Optionally, the arrangement of the one or more support elements and/or the arrangement of the movement devices may be determined using one or more of motion-tracking experiments, strain-field analysis, and optimisation of the lines of non-extension, maximal extension, and/or minimal extension of one or more muscles or the surface around the joint of a body part of a user of the system.

Optionally, the one or more support elements may each comprise a polymer material and a layer comprising a gel, foam and/or a liquid and/or a fluid. Advantageously, the layer comprising a gel, foam and/or a liquid and/or a fluid may help facilitate the distribution of forces over at least one body part of a user of the system, while minimising the required size of the one or more support elements.

Optionally, the one or more support elements may be manufactured using an additive manufacturing process.

Optionally, the positioning, orientation and layout of the elements making up the system may be determined using an algorithm based on optimisation, motion capture experiments and/or strain field analysis.

According to a second aspect of the disclosure, there is provided a system for movement control, comprising:

at least four movement devices, each movement device comprising:

an elongate actuating element having at least a portion that is displaceable and/or stretchable along a longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element for applying a force to at least one body part of a user of the system; and

an actuator configured to actuate the elongate actuating element; wherein:

each of the elongate actuating elements is arranged for being generally parallel to and/or generally coincident to, or generally convergent or generally divergent at an angle of 20° or less relative to, a common line of actuation of a pair of muscles of a user of the system; and the system has a longitudinal direction and the at least four movement devices are arranged to be approximately equally spaced relative to one another circumferentially about the longitudinal direction of the system.

Advantageously, arranging each of the elongate actuating elements for being generally parallel to and/or generally coincident to, or generally convergent or generally divergent at an angle of 20° or less relative to a common effective line of actuation of a pair of muscles (which may also be referred to as a common boundary of a pair of muscles, e.g. as a common edge or surface between two muscles) of a user of the system may provide that each of the movement devices is positioned along a combination of muscles that influence a body movement, rather than only along a particular line of a particular single muscle. Furthermore, this provides that a greater number of movement devices is responsible for every movement of at least one body part of a user of the system, meaning that the force applied by each of the elongate actuating elements to said at least one body part can be reduced to achieve the same total force to applied to said at least one body part. This is particularly advantageous because by reducing the force that each of the elongate actuating elements is required to apply, it may be possible for the system to comprise soft (e.g. fabric) components, rather than traditionally hard components. This may provide for the system to be employed in a soft, lightweight, low volume and portable exosuit or exoskeleton, rather than a traditionally hard, heavy and bulky exoskeleton. Additionally, this may provide for reduced damage to the system and to an exosuit or exoskeleton employing the system, because excessive forces might otherwise damage the system, particularly if it included soft materials such as fabric.

Furthermore, such a system may provide for 2 DoF movement of a body part of a user of the system. Additionally, such a system may have improved balance and symmetry, and may provide for improved compensation for misalignments. Having four movement devices may advantageously provide for an optimum balance of maximising the balance and symmetry of the system, to compensate for misalignments, while minimising the weight and volume of the system, thus increasing the portability of the system. In particular, such a system may have the ability to distribute the forces across more movement devices and surface area for improved range and load-bearing; the ability to compensate for dynamic radial and longitudinal misalignments actively in both DoFs; the ability to compensate for backlash in the elongate actuating elements by using the elongate sensing elements as a benchmark; and/or for smoother control for random movements in both DoFs.

Optionally, each of the movement devices each further comprises:

an elongate sensing element arranged generally parallel to the elongate actuating element and having at least a portion that is configured to be displaced and/or stretched along a longitudinal direction of said elongate sensing element generally with displacement and/or stretch of the actuating element, for sensing the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element; and

a sensor configured to measure the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate sensing element.

Optionally, the system comprises a plurality of movement devices, wherein at least one of the movement devices shares a single, common actuator and/or a single, common sensor with at least one other one of the movement devices.

Advantageously, this can provide that the number of actuators and/or the number of sensors can be reduced, for example halved, to provide a system that is more lightweight and cheaper to manufacture.

Advantageously, in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate sensing element may provide the determination of the real displacement and the amount of any stretch that may be induced in the elongate actuating element, thus providing for the prediction and compensation of backlash in the elongate actuating element. Additionally, the elongate sensing element may provide for the sensing of misalignment in the movement device, and to compensate for variations in the alignment of the movement device on a body part of a user using the system. In addition, the elongate actuating element may provide for the detection of the position of the muscles of a body part of a user using the system, advantageously simulating the human sense of proprioception and the human muscle system in general, to provide improved movement control of said user. The elongate sensing element may provide for a complete and intuitive sensing system, and may be used to drive the actuator and the elongate sensing element, the system simulating the human sense of proprioception.

Furthermore, since such a system is able to provide both sensing and actuating capabilities, such a system may allow for the provision of haptic feedback, for example when each of the elongate actuating elements applies a small force to at least one body part of a user of the system. This may be particularly advantageous for applications for surgeons or other specialists who could control such robots while getting accurate force feedback through the elongate actuating elements. This could also be particularly advantageous for applications such as the ability to apply passive forces thereby enabling gravity compensation for a user of the system. This could be useful for people such as industry workers, manual labourers, surgeons etc., who work in one position for many hours: such a system could advantageously provide for the offloading of the weight of the limbs of such a person, thus enabling them to work for longer hours and/or to work with reduced effort and/or fatigue.

Advantageously, such a system may thus be advantageously employed in applications such as: assistive applications for the ageing population, the military and/or industry workers; resistive applications for physical therapy, portable/wearable gym equipment, and/or for astronauts; full-body haptic interface/teleoperation exosuits for people such as astronauts or surgeons to control robotic devices; and/or gravity compensation for people such as surgeons and/or industry workers.

Optionally, the system is configured to be worn on and to control the movement of a joint of a user of the system, such as a shoulder, hip, ankle, torso, wrist, finger, thumb, neck, elbow or knee joint.

Optionally, each of the movement devices is arranged generally along a line of maximal extension of a region of a joint of a user of the system, said line of maximal extension being determined by performing motion tracking experiments and strain-field or similar analysis and/or applying optimisation or learning algorithms to fine-tune the lines across the region of the joint.

Optionally, at least two of the movement devices are arranged to be opposite one another about the longitudinal direction of the system and are configured to work as a pair in an agonist/antagonist configuration, such that when one of the movement devices in said pair is extended, the other of the movement devices in said pair is configured to retract, and vice versa.

Optionally, it is envisaged that the system according to the second aspect of the disclosure may comprise one or more of any of the optional features recited above in relation to the system according to the first aspect of the disclosure, and may thus also provide any one or more of the associated advantages thereof. These are not duplicated herein purely for the sake of conciseness. According to a third aspect of the disclosure, there is provided a system for movement control, comprising: at least four movement devices, each movement device comprising: an elongate sensing element having at least a portion that is configured to be displaced and/or stretched along a longitudinal direction of said elongate sensing element for sensing a force applied to and/or the movement of at least one body part of a user of the system; and a sensor configured to measure the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate sensing element; wherein: each of the elongate sensing elements is arranged for being generally parallel to and/or generally coincident to, or generally convergent or generally divergent at an angle of 20° or less relative to, a common effective line of actuation of a pair of muscles of a user of the system; and the system has a longitudinal direction and the at least four movement devices are arranged to be approximately equally spaced relative to one another circumferentially about the longitudinal direction of the system.

Advantageously, such a system may be used to sense the movement of a user of the system. For example, such a system could be employed in a sensing suit for sensing and monitoring a user’s movements, such as in applications for rehabilitation or sports. Such a system could also be employed to mimic the movements of a user of the system, which could advantageously be used for motion tracking, animation, teleoperation of robots and/or wellness monitoring applications.

Advantageously, arranging each of the elongate sensing elements for being generally parallel to and/or generally coincident to, or generally convergent or generally divergent at an angle of 20° or less relative to, a common effective line of actuation of a pair of muscles of a user of the system may provide that each of the movement devices is positioned along a combination of muscles that influence a body movement, rather than only along a particular line of a particular single muscle.

Furthermore, such a system may provide for 2 DoF movement sensing of a body part of a user of the system. Additionally, such a system may have improved balance and symmetry, and may provide for improved compensation for misalignments. Having four movement devices may advantageously provide for an optimum balance of maximising the balance and symmetry of the system, to compensate for misalignments, while minimising the weight and volume of the system, thus increasing the portability of the system.

Optionally, each of the movement devices each further comprises: an elongate actuating element arranged generally parallel to the elongate sensing element and having at least a portion that is displaceable and/or stretchable along a longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element for applying a force to at least one body part of a user of the system; and an actuator configured to actuate the elongate actuating element.

Optionally, the system comprises a plurality of movement devices, wherein at least one of the movement devices shares a single, common actuator and/or a single, common sensor with at least one other one of the movement devices.

Advantageously, this can provide that the number of actuators and/or the number of sensors can be reduced, for example halved, to provide a system that is more lightweight and cheaper to manufacture.

Advantageously, in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate sensing element may provide the determination of the real displacement and the amount of any stretch that may be induced in the elongate actuating element, thus providing for the prediction and compensation of backlash in the elongate actuating element. Additionally, the elongate sensing element may provide for the sensing of misalignment in the movement device, and to compensate for variations in the alignment of the movement device on a body part of a user using the system. In addition, the elongate actuating element may provide for the detection of the position of the muscles of a body part of a user using the system, advantageously simulating the human sense of proprioception and the human muscle system in general, to provide improved movement control of said user. The elongate sensing element may provide for a complete and intuitive sensing system, and may be used to drive the actuator and the elongate sensing element, the system simulating the human sense of proprioception.

Furthermore, since such a system is able to provide both sensing and actuating capabilities, such a system may allow for the provision of haptic feedback, for example when each of the elongate actuating elements applies a small force to at least one body part of a user of the system. This may be particularly advantageous for applications for surgeons or other specialists who could control such robots while getting accurate force feedback through the elongate actuating elements. This could also be particularly advantageous for applications such as the ability to apply passive forces thereby enabling gravity compensation for a user of the system. This could be useful for people such as industry workers, manual labourers, surgeons etc., who work in one position for many hours: such a system could advantageously provide for the offloading of the weight of the limbs of such a person, thus enabling them to work for longer hours and/or to work with reduced effort and/or fatigue. Advantageously, such a system may thus be advantageously employed in applications such as: assistive applications for the ageing population, the military and/or industry workers; resistive applications for physical therapy, portable/wearable gym equipment, and/or for astronauts; full-body haptic interface/teleoperation exosuits for people such as astronauts or surgeons to control robotic devices; and/or gravity compensation for people such as surgeons and/or industry workers.

Optionally, each of the movement devices is arranged generally along a line of maximal extension of a region of a joint of a user of the system, said line of maximal extension being determined by performing motion tracking experiments and strain-field or similar analysis and/or applying optimisation or learning algorithms to fine-tune the lines across the region of the joint.

Optionally, at least two of the movement devices are arranged to be opposite one another about the longitudinal direction of the system and are configured to work as a pair in an agonist/antagonist configuration, such that when one of the movement devices in said pair is extended, the other of the movement devices in said pair is configured to retract, and vice versa.

Optionally, it is envisaged that the system according to the third aspect of the disclosure may comprise one or more of any of the optional features recited above in relation to the system according to the first or second aspects of the disclosure, and may thus also provide any one or more of the associated advantages thereof. These are not duplicated herein purely for the sake of conciseness.

According to a fourth aspect of the disclosure, there is provided a system for movement control, comprising:

at least one movement device, each movement device comprising:

an elongate actuating element having at least a portion that is displaceable and/or stretchable along a longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element for applying a force to at least one body part of a user of the system; and

an elongate sensing element arranged generally parallel to the elongate actuating element and having at least a portion that is configured to be displaced and/or stretched along a longitudinal direction of said elongate sensing element generally with displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element, for sensing the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element;

an actuator configured to actuate at least one of the elongate actuating elements; and a sensor configured to measure the displacement and/or stretch of at least one of the elongate sensing elements.

According to a fifth aspect of the disclosure, there is provided a system for movement control, comprising:

at least four movement devices, each movement device comprising an elongate actuating element having at least a portion that is displaceable and/or stretchable along a longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element for applying a force to at least one body part of a user of the system; and

an actuator configured to actuate at least one of the elongate actuating elements; wherein:

each of the elongate actuating elements is arranged for being generally parallel to and/or generally coincident to, or generally convergent or generally divergent at an angle of 20° or less relative to, a common line of actuation of a pair of muscles of a user of the system; and

the system has a longitudinal direction and the at least four movement devices are arranged to be approximately equally spaced relative to one another circumferentially about the longitudinal direction of the system.

According to a sixth aspect of the disclosure, there is provided a system for movement control, comprising:

at least four movement devices, each movement device comprising an elongate sensing element having at least a portion that is configured to be displaced and/or stretched along a longitudinal direction of said elongate sensing element for sensing a force applied to and/or the movement of at least one body part of a user of the system; and

a sensor configured to measure the displacement and/or stretch of at least one of the elongate sensing elements;

wherein:

each of the elongate sensing elements is arranged for being generally parallel to and/or generally coincident to, or generally convergent or generally divergent at an angle of 20° or less relative to, a common effective line of actuation of a pair of muscles of a user of the system; and the system has a longitudinal direction and the at least four movement devices are arranged to be approximately equally spaced relative to one another circumferentially about the longitudinal direction of the system.

Optionally, it is envisaged that the systems according to the fourth, fifth and sixth aspects of the disclosure may comprise one or more of any of the optional features recited above in relation to the systems according to the first, second or third aspects of the disclosure, and may thus also provide any one or more of the associated advantages thereof. These are not duplicated herein purely for the sake of conciseness.

According to a seventh aspect of the disclosure, there is provided an exoskeleton or exosuit comprising at least one system according to the first and/or second and/or third and/or fourth and/or fifth and/or sixth aspects of the disclosure, and a garment, for example a compression garment, arranged to be worn underneath said at least one system. Advantageously, such an exoskeleton or exosuit may provide for a soft wearable robotic system for movement control of a user wearing said exoskeleton or exosuit, that has reduced weight and size, and hence increased portability and ease of use.

Optionally, the compression garment may comprise a compression-fit suit, such as a suit comprising neoprene, elastane, viscose, polyester, cotton, power net fabric and/or power mesh fabric. Advantageously, such a compression garment may confirm closely to the skin of a user of the system.

Optionally, the one or more support elements may be arranged on and/or coupled/attached to the compression garment.

Optionally, the compression garment may comprise one or more straps or bands configured to tightly fit at least one body part of a user of the exoskeleton or exosuit.

According to a eighth aspect of the disclosure, there is provided a method of controlling the movement of a body part of a user of a system according to the first and/or second and/or third and/or fourth and/or fifth and/or sixth aspects of the disclosure, wherein the method comprises: arranging each of the at least one movement devices to be generally parallel and/or generally coincident with a common effective line of actuation of a pair of muscles of said body part.

Advantageously, arranging each of the elongate actuating elements for being generally parallel to and/or generally coincident with a common line of actuation of a pair of muscles that work together (e.g. a common boundary of a pair of muscles) of a user of the system may provide that each of the movement devices is positioned along a combination of muscles that influence a body movement, rather than only along a particular line of a particular single muscle. Furthermore, this provides that a greater number of movement devices is responsible for every movement of at least one body part of a user of the system, meaning that the force applied by each of the elongate actuating elements to said at least one body part can be reduced to achieve the same total force to applied to said at least one body part. This is particularly advantageous because by reducing the force that each of the elongate actuating elements is required to apply, it may be possible for the system to comprise soft (e.g. fabric) components, rather than traditionally hard components. This may provide for the system to be employed in a soft, lightweight, low volume and portable exosuit or exoskeleton, rather than a traditionally hard, heavy and bulky exoskeleton. Additionally, this may provide for reduced damage to the system and to an exosuit or exoskeleton employing the system, because excessive forces might otherwise damage the system, particularly if it included soft materials such as fabric.

Optionally, the method further comprises configuring each of the at least one movement devices to be generally along a line of maximal extension of a region of a joint of said body part.

Advantageously, this may provide that in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate actuating element may more effectively apply a force to at least one body part of a user of the system. This is because in each of the at least one movement devices, the elongate actuating element may be configured to apply a pulling force to at least one body part of a user of the system. By arranging each of the at least one movement devices generally along a line of maximal extension of a region of a joint of a user of the system, the more displacement and/or stretch of the elongate actuating element along a longitudinal direction of said elongate actuating element may be possible. This may therefore be the most suitable line along which to arrange each of the at least one movement devices, so as to most effectively apply a force to at least one body part of a user of the system.

Optionally, the system may comprise one or more support elements configured to reinforce the at least one movement device, and the method may comprise configuring each of the one or more support elements to be generally along a line of non-extension of a muscle of said body part.

Optionally, the system comprises four of said movement devices: a first movement device, a second movement device, a third movement device, and a fourth movement device, and the method further comprises: arranging the first movement device to be generally parallel to and/or generally coincident with a common effective line of actuation of a first muscle and a second muscle of a user of the system; arranging the second movement device to be generally parallel to and/or generally coincident with a common effective line of actuation of the second muscle and a third muscle of said user of the system; arranging the third movement device to be generally parallel to and/or generally coincident with a common effective line of actuation of the third muscle and a fourth muscle of said user of the system; and arranging the fourth movement device to be generally parallel to and/or generally coincident with a common effective line of actuation of the fourth muscle and a fifth muscle of said user of the system. Advantageously, such an arrangement of the four or more of said movement devices may advantageously provide that the system may be generalised to any complex joint.

Optionally, the first muscle is a pectoralis major, the second muscle is an anterior deltoid, the third muscle is a lateral deltoid, the fourth muscle is a posterior deltoid, and the fifth muscle is a teres major or a latissimus dorsi, such that the method is for controlling a shoulder joint of a user of the system. The glenohumeral joint, commonly referred to as the shoulder joint, is an extremely complex joint. The flexion extension (F/E) and abduction/adduction (A/A) movements in the shoulder are generated predominantly by five sets of muscles, and the muscle spindles within said muscles are responsible for joint-angle sensing. Advantageously, such a system and method may provide for the movement control of a shoulder joint of a user of the system.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present disclosure may be carried out in various ways and examples of the disclosure will now be described by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figure 1 shows a side schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a shoulder joint of a user of the system;

Figure 2 shows a front schematic view of the system shown in Figure 1 ;

Figure 3 shows a rear schematic view of the system show in Figures 1 and 2;

Figure 4 shows a plan schematic cross-sectional view of the system shown in Figures 1 to 3; Figure 5 shows a schematic view of a movement device of a system for movement control being worn on a shoulder joint of a user of the system;

Figure 6 shows a front perspective view of an exosuit including a system for movement sensing, being worn on a shoulder joint of a user of the exosuit;

Figure 7 shows a side view of the exosuit shown in Figure 6;

Figure 8 shows a rear perspective view of the exosuit shown in Figures 6 and 7;

Figure 9 shows a rear view of the exosuit shown in Figures 6 to 8;

Figure 10A shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on an ankle joint of a user of the system;

Figure 10B shows a side-rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 10A; Figure 11A shows a rear schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a wrist joint of a user of the system; Figure 11 B shows a front schematic view of the system shown in Figure 11A;

Figure 12A shows a rear schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on an elbow joint of a user of the system;

Figure 12B shows a front schematic view of the system shown in Figure 12A;

Figure 13A shows a front schematic view of a plurality of systems for movement control being worn on the digits of a user of the systems;

Figure 13B shows a rear schematic view of the systems shown in Figure 13A;

Figure 14A shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a torso joint of a user of the system;

Figure 14B shows a rear perspective view of the system shown in Figure 14A;

Figure 15A shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a neck joint of a user of the system;

Figure 15B shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 15A; Figure 16A shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a hip joint of a user of the system;

Figure 16B shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 16A; Figure 17A shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a knee joint of a user of the system;

Figure 17B shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 17A; Figure 18A shows a front perspective schematic view and a rear perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on an ankle joint of a user of the system;

Figure 18B shows a front perspective schematic view and a rear perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on an ankle joint of a user of the system;

Figure 19A shows a rear schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a wrist joint of a user of the system;

Figure 19B shows a front schematic view of the system shown in Figure 19A;

Figure 20A shows a rear schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on an elbow joint of a user of the system;

Figure 20B shows a front schematic view of the system shown in Figure 20A;

Figure 21A shows a side perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a torso joint of a user of the system;

Figure 21 B shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 21 A; Figure 21 C shows a side perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a torso joint of a user of the system;

Figure 21 D shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 21C; Figure 22A shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a neck joint of a user of the system; Figure 22B shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 22A; Figure 22C shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a neck joint of a user of the system;

Figure 22D shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 22C; Figure 23A shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a hip joint of a user of the system;

Figure 23B shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 23A; Figure 23C shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a hip joint of a user of the system;

Figure 23D shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 23C; Figure 24A shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on an ankle joint of a user of the system;

Figure 24B shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 24A; Figure 25A shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on an ankle joint of a user of the system;

Figure 25B shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 25A; Figure 26A shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on an ankle joint of a user of the system;

Figure 26B shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 26A; Figure 27A shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on an ankle joint of a user of the system;

Figure 27B shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 27A; Figure 28A shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on an ankle joint of a user of the system;

Figure 28B shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 28A; Figure 29A shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on an ankle joint of a user of the system;

Figure 29B shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 29A; Figure 30A shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on an ankle joint of a user of the system;

Figure 30B shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 30A; Figure 31 A shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement sensing being worn on an ankle joint of a user of the system;

Figure 31 B shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 31 A; Figure 32A shows a front perspective schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on an ankle joint of a user of the system;

Figure 32B shows a rear perspective schematic view of the system shown in Figure 32A; Figure 33 shows a side schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a shoulder joint of a user of the system;

Figure 34A shows a rear schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a wrist joint of a user of the system;

Figure 34B shows a front schematic view of the system shown in Figure 34A;

Figure 35A shows a rear schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a wrist joint of a user of the system;

Figure 35B shows a front schematic view of the system shown in Figure 35A;

Figure 36A shows a rear schematic view of a system for movement control being worn on a wrist joint of a user of the system; and

Figure 36B shows a front schematic view of the system shown in Figure 36A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Firstly, the structural arrangement of a system for movement control shall be described. Figure 1 shows a side schematic view of a system 1 for movement control being worn on a shoulder joint 2 of a user 3 of the system 1. As shown in Figures 1 to 3, the system 1 comprises four movement devices 4a ,4b, 4c, 4d, each comprising an elongate actuating element 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d respectively, and an elongate sensing element 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d respectively. The movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d and their elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d and elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d are flexible along their respective lengths such that they can be arranged to closely follow the contours of the shoulder joint 2 of the user 3, as shown in Figures 1 to 3. Although in the example shown the system 1 comprises four movement devices, it is also envisaged that the system 1 may comprise any number of one or more movement devices, for example, one, two, three, five, six, seven or eight movement devices.

With reference to Figures 8 and 9, each of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d further comprises a respective sheath 7a, 7b, 7c, 7d, which is generally cylindrical, hollow and elongate, and houses the respective elongate actuating element 5a, 5b, 5c and 5d and elongate sensing element 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d of each of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d. Though, it is also envisaged that the sheaths may have any other cross-sectional shape that is not a circle, such as an ellipse, quadrilateral or other two-dimensional shape. It is also envisaged that alternatively, each of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d may each comprise two sheaths, one for housing the respective elongate actuating element 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d, and a separate one for housing the corresponding respective paired elongate sensing element 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d. The elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d and the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d being housed inside the sheaths 7a, 7b, 7c, 7d respectively provides that in each movement device 4a, 4b ,4c, 4d, the elongate sensing element 6a, 6b, 6b, 6d is arranged to be generally parallel to the elongate actuating element 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d. In other words, they are arranged to follow substantially the same path/to extend along substantially the same routing. This is analogous to the mechanics of the human body: the lines of actuation of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d are parallel to the lines of sensing of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d, which is analogous to the lines/direction of the muscle spindles in a muscle, which are responsible for the human sense of proprioception. The change in length and rate change of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d may thus be used for kinematic sensing of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d. In this manner, through their inspiration from the human sense of proprioception, the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d and the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d may colloquially be referred to as “actuating tendons” and“sensing tendons” respectively. The elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d (the“actuating tendons”) and the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d (the “sensing tendons”) work together in pairs (e.g. the actuating tendon 5a with the sensing tendon 6a) and may thus be referred to as being“paired”.

This can be understood by referring back to Figure 1 , which shows, for example, that the elongate actuating element 5a and the paired elongate sensing element 6a are generally parallel and follow the same path/routing as one another. Similarly, the elongate actuating element 5b and the paired elongate sensing element 6b are generally parallel and follow the same path/routing as one another.

The sheaths 7a, 7b, 7c, 7d, the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d and the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d are coated with PTFE (on the outside of the elongate actuating and sensing elements and on the inside of the sheaths) to reduce the friction between the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d and the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d inside the sheaths 7a, 7b, 7c, 7d. Though, it is also envisaged that they could alternatively be coated with a different low-friction material, such as nylon.

A plurality of support elements 8 receive and reinforce the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d to route the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d in the desired path/routing. In the example shown in Figures 8 and 9, the support elements 8 comprise 3D-printed elements each comprising a clip element for receiving one of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d. Though, it is also envisaged that the support elements 8 may comprise any other mechanical means suitable for receiving and reinforcing the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, such as a hook, loop, hole, peg, or clamp arrangement. Each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d has a respective first end 9a, 9b, 9c, 9d and a respective second end 10a, 10b, 10c, 10d, and each of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c and 6d has a respective first end 11 a, 1 1 b, 1 1c, 1 1 d and a respective second end 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d. The first ends 9a, 9b, 9c, 9d and 11 a, 11 b, 11 c, 11 d are attached to a strap 13 to be worn around the arm of the user 3, just above the user’s elbow. It is envisaged that the strap 13 could be fastened around the user’s elbow using a hook and loop fastener, a zip, and/or a buckle or any other suitable fastening element, or the strap 13 could comprise an elastic loop to be stretched over the arm as an armband. The second ends 10a, 10b, 10c, 10d and 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d are coupled to a back support 14 to be worn on the back of the user 3, via respective motors 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d and respective string potentiometers 17a, 17b, 17c, 17d, which are described below. In the example shown in Figures 8 and 9, the back support 14 comprises a backpack-like volume having straps 15 for being worn around the top of the shoulders of the user 3. Though, it is also envisaged that the back support 14 may comprise any other open or closed volume such as a pocket, rucksack, a bag or the like, and may be worn by the user 3 by any other means such as a waist strap, for example.

Each of the movement devices 4a, 4c, 4b, 4d each further comprises a respective motor 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d and a respective string potentiometer 17a, 17b, 17c, 17d, which are contained within/attached to the back support 14, as shown in Figures 8 and 9. The second ends 10a, 10b, 10c, 10d of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d are coupled to the motors 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d respectively. The second ends 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d are coupled to the string potentiometers 17a, 17b, 17c, 17d respectively. It is also envisaged that each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d may alternatively be coupled to and/or actuated by one or more pneumatic pistons, hydraulic pistons, twisted string actuators, and/or shape memory materials.

The functional arrangement of the system 1 shall now be described, referring back to Figure 1. In each of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, the respective elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d each has a respective longitudinal direction 18a, 18b, 18c, 18d, along which it is displaceable. For example, the elongate actuating element 5a has a longitudinal direction 18a and is displaceable along the longitudinal direction 18a. In this manner, since the first ends 9a, 9b, 9c, 9d of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d are attached to the strap 13 (i.e. are in a fixed position), the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d are arranged to be displaced along their respective lengths 18a, 18b, 18c, 18d when the arm and/or shoulder joint 2 of the user 3 moves. As such, each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d is configured to apply a force to the shoulder joint 2 when they are each displaced along their respective longitudinal directions. As an example, if the user 3 were to raise their arm upwards from the position shown in Figure 1 , this would cause a portion of each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d to be displaced along the respective lengths 18a, 18b, 18c, 18d, i.e. for the portion of each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d that extends between the strap 13 and the back support 14 to get longer or shorter. In other words, the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d, which are substantially inelastic and are thus configured not to experience a substantial amount of stretch/elongation, can be pulled and/or loosened to apply a force to the shoulder joint 2. This is provided for by a shaft on each of the motors 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d, which allows the second end 10a, 10b, 10c, 10d of each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d to be wound/coiled up or unwound/uncoiled around/about said shafts, to facilitate the longitudinal displacement of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d. This can also be understood by referring to Figure 5, which shows the shoulder joint 2 in a first lowered position in which the elongate actuating element 5a is in a first position 19 and in a second raised position in which the elongate actuating element 5a is in a second position 20. In the second position 20, the elongate actuating element 5a has a different unwound length to in the first position 19. In other words, in the second position 20 a different amount of the length of the elongate actuating element 5a is wound/coiled up around the shaft of the motor 16a than in the first position 19.

In the example, the elongate actuating elements 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d are made from a stainless steel wire cable coated with PTFE. Though, it is also envisaged that they may also be made from any other substantially inelastic material such as any other metal, or a wire or a cable, such as a wound metal cable, silk, nylon, a metal, or a polymer, so as to provide and withstand the requisite tensile force so that the elongate actuating elements 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d can each apply a force to at least a part of the shoulder 2. It is also envisaged that the elongate actuating elements 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d need not be coated with PTFE. The elongate actuating elements 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d are configured to be displaced along their respective lengths 18a, 18b, 18c, 18d with minimal (ideally zero, but in practice there may be some) stretch/elongation along said lengths, so that they can effectively apply a force to the shoulder 2.

Similarly, since the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d are arranged to be generally parallel with the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d respectively, each of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d is configured to be displaced and/or stretched along the respective longitudinal direction 18a, 18b, 18c, 18d when the corresponding respective elongate actuating element 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d is displaced. The second ends 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d are configured to be wound/coiled up or unwound/coiled around/about the string potentiometers 17a, 17b, 17c, 17d, to facilitate the displacement and/or stretching of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d. For example, with reference to Figures 1 and 5, when the elongate actuating element 5a is displaced along the longitudinal direction 18a to apply a force to the shoulder joint 2, the elongate sensing element 6a will be displaced and/or stretched along the longitudinal direction 18a. Each of the string potentiometers 17a, 17b, 17c, 17d comprises a spring (not shown), configured to apply a tensile force to the respective elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d. Advantageously, the springs may provide that the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d are kept taught (i.e. in tension) at all times, such that they may work in both directions, to provide for more accurate measurement of the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d.

Accordingly, the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d are thus able to experience and sense the displacement of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d respectively, which is then measured by the string potentiometers 17a, 17b, 17c, 17d. Also, the motors 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d are configured to actuate the displacement of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d, by causing them to unwind or wind up, and the string potentiometers 17a, 17b, 17c, 17d are configured to measure the displacement and/or stretch of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d, by tracking the shortening/extending in length of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d. The different string potentiometers 17a, 17b, 17c, 17d sense/track the movement of different regions of the shoulder joint’s 2 surface. The data from all of the different string potentiometer sensors 17a, 17b, 17c, 17d can be manipulated and fused together to derive the joint angles of the shoulder 2. It is also envisaged that the motors 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d may be replaced with any other actuating means, and/or that the string potentiometers 17a, 17b, 17c, 17d may be replaced with any other sensing means.

As shown in Figures 8 and 9, an Arduino microcontroller board 21 is in signal communication with the motors 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d and the string potentiometers 17a, 17b, 17c, 17d, such that the sensing information obtained from the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d may advantageously be used to decide and control the movement of, and to form a benchmark for, finding the real displacement and the amount of any unwanted stretch/extension (and thereby compensate for any induced backlash) that has been induced in the elongate actuating tendons 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d. It is also envisaged that the Arduino microcontroller board 21 may be replaced with another other controller. A battery pack 22 supplies power to the motors 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d and the string potentiometers 17a, 17b, 17c, 17d and facilitates the portability of the system 1. It is also envisaged that the battery pack 22 may be replaced with any other power source. The Arduino microcontroller board 21 and the battery pack 22 are contained within/attached to the back support 14. Next, the positioning of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d relative to the muscles of the shoulder 2 of the user 3 shall be described, referring back to Figures 1 to 3. The movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d are routed across the shoulder joint 2 based on the organisation of the muscles around the shoulder joint 2. The shoulder joint 2 comprises six major muscles: the pectoralis major 23, the anterior deltoid 24, the lateral deltoid 25, the posterior deltoid 26, the teres major 27, and the latissimus dorsi 28. The pectoralis major 23 assists with flexion, adduction and horizontal adduction movements. The anterior deltoid 24 assists with flexion, abduction and horizontal adduction movements. The lateral deltoid 25 assists with abduction movements. The posterior deltoid 26 assists with adduction and horizontal abduction. The latissimus dorsi 28 and the teres major 27 assist with extension, adduction and horizontal abduction. The movement device 4a is arranged to be generally parallel to and generally coincident with the common effective line of actuation between the pectoralis major 23 and the anterior deltoid 24. The movement device 4b is arranged to be generally parallel to and generally coincident with the common effective line of actuation between the anterior deltoid

24 and the lateral deltoid 25. The movement device 4c is arranged to be generally parallel to and generally coincident with the common effective line of actuation between the lateral deltoid

25 and the posterior deltoid 26. The movement device 4d is arranged to be generally parallel to and generally coincident with the common effective line of actuation between the posterior deltoid 26 and the teres major 27 and the latissimus dorsi 28. Additionally, the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d are each arranged to be generally along a line of maximal extension of one of said aforementioned muscles. Although in the example shown, the system 1 is arranged for being worn on a shoulder joint, it is also envisaged that the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d may be arranged for a different group of muscles, such that the system 1 may be configured to be worn on and to control the movement of any other joint of a user of the system, such as a hip (for example as shown in Figures 16A, 16B, 23A, 23B, 23C and 23D), ankle (for example as shown in Figures 10A, 10B, 18A, 18B, 24A, 24B, 25A, 25B, 26A, 26B, 27A, 27B, 28A, 28B, 29A, 29B, 30A, 30B, 31 A, 31 B, 32A and 32B) , torso (for example as shown in Figures 14A, 14B, 21 A, 21 B, 21 C and 21 D) wrist (for example as shown in Figures 1 1 A, 11 B, 19A and 19B) finger (for example as shown in Figures 13A and 13B), thumb (for example as shown in Figures 13A and 13B), neck (for example as shown in Figures 15A, 15B, 22A, 22B, 22C and 22D) elbow (for example as shown in Figures 12A, 12B, 20A and 20B) or knee (for example as shown in Figures 17A and 17B) joint.

The support elements 8 are arranged on the system 1 along lines of non-extension of one or more muscles or the surface around the joint of the shoulder joint 2 of the user 3, and the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d are each arranged along a line of maximal extension of a muscle of the shoulder joint 2. The positioning of the support elements 8 and/or of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d can be determined based on one or more of motion-tracking experiments, strain-field analysis, and/or optimisation of the lines of non-extension, maximal extension, and/or minimal extension of the muscles of the shoulder joint 2. For example, reinforcement learning (RL) and/or genetic algorithms (GA) could be used to find the optimal paths for each of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d. Advantageously, this may provide that the support elements 8 and the elongate elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d and 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d in the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d can function to distribute the forces experienced by them from the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, so that the user 3 can experience lower and more distributed forces, whilst routing the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d effectively while eliminating the possibility of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d adversely pressing into the user 3.

The system 1 has a longitudinal direction 29, shown going into the page in the cross-sectional plan view of Figure 4, and the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d are arranged to be approximately spaced apart by 90 degrees relative to one another circumferentially about the longitudinal direction 29 of the system 1. In this exemplary layout, the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d are arranged in pairs to work in an agonist/antagonist configuration. In the example shown, the movement devices 4a and 4c (which are housed inside the sheaths 7a and 7c respectively, as described above) are configured to work as a pair in an agonist/antagonist configuration, wherein when one of the movement devices 4a or 4c is extended, the other of the movement devices 4a or 4c retracts, and vice versa. Similarly, also in the example shown, the movement devices 4b and 4d (which are housed inside the sheaths 7b and 7d respectively, as described above) are configured to work as a pair in an agonist/antagonist configuration, wherein when one or the movement devices 4b or 4d is extended, the other of the movement devices 4b or 4d retracts, and vice versa. Advantageously, in such a layout, it is envisaged that each of the agonist/antagonist pairs of movement devices 4a and 4c or 4b and 4d may be connected to a single actuator and/or to a single shared sensor - e.g. movement devices 4a and 4c may be connected to a first single, shared actuator and/or to a first single, shared sensor, and movement devices 4b and 4d may be connected to a second single, shared actuator and/or to a second single, shared sensor. Advantageously, such a layout can thus halve the number of required actuators and/or sensors, thus making the entire system more lightweight and cheaper to manufacture.

The motors 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d are each operable to have their respective shafts spun in a first direction such that the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d can apply an assistive force to the shoulder joint 2, and also in a second direction such that the elongate actuating elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d can apply a resistive force to the shoulder joint 2. Examples of operating the system 1 shall now be described. The elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d can be used to control the movement of the shoulder 2. As an example for an assistive application of the system 1 , if the user 3 were to start moving their arm upwards from the position shown in Figure 1 , this would cause a portion of each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d to be displaced along the respective lengths 18a, 18b, 18c, 18d, because the shaft on each of the motors 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d would allow the second ends 10a, 10b, 10c, 10d of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d to be wound/coiled up or unwound/uncoiled around/about said motor shafts as required, to provide/allow for the required length change of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d in order to allow for the user 3 to actually move their arm in the first place. The elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d sense the movement of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d that has been caused/initiated by the user 3 starting to move their arm. Then, using this measurement data, the controller 21 is able to send a signal to the motors 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d to tell said motors that the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d need to move more/continue moving to allow the user 3 to perform the full desired movement of their arm and hence shoulder joint 2 and to assist their motion/strength in doing so. The motors 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d are then caused to rotate further to allow the second ends 10a, 10b, 10c, 10d of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d to be further wound/coiled up or unwound/uncoiled around/about the shafts of said motors, to provide/allow for the required length change of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d. This movement of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d pulls on the muscles of the shoulder joint 2, thus assisting the user 3 in moving their arm upwards.

As another example, in a resistive application of the system 1 , once the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d, together with the string potentiometers 17a, 17b, 17c, 17d, sense that the user 3 is trying to/starting to move their arm upwards, then the controller 21 could send a signal to the motors 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d to tell said motors that the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d should oppose said arm movement, i.e. should stay tight/wound/coiled up around the shafts of said motors, in order to provide resistance to the user 3 moving their arm. The elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d could be used to impede or resist the user’s 3 movement, by providing resistance or by completely blocking the user 3 from moving their arm/shoulder 2 at all.

These examples illustrate that in use of the system 1 , the movement of the shoulder joint 2 by the user 3 themselves may initiate and/or cause movement of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d. Also, conversely, actuation of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d by the motors 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d may influence and/or cause or resist movement of the shoulder joint 2, by pulling on it to help it move, or by pulling against it to resist the shoulder joint’s 2 movement. The elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d provide measurements/data of the movement of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d and thus help determine when and by how much they should be actuated/moved, based on how they are being moved, where they are, how fast they are moving and/or their immediate movement history at a particular time. The elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d and the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d thus work together in pairs to simulate the human sense of proprioception.

An exosuit 30 including the system 1 and a compression-fit suit 31 to be worn under the system 1 , shall now be described, with reference to Figures 6 to 9. The compression-fit suit comprises one or more of the following materials: neoprene, elastane, viscose, polyester, cotton, power net fabric and/or power mesh fabric. Though, it is also envisaged that the compression-fit suit may comprise any other materials. Advantageously, such a compression garment may confirm closely to the skin of a user of the system. It is also envisaged that the compression-fit suit 31 may be replaced with any other garment, such as a compression garment, or one or more straps or harnesses. The strap 13, the back support 14, and the straps 15 can be worn on top of or attached to (e.g. by sewing or an adhesive) the compression-fit suit 31. The example shown in Figures 6 to 9 shows that the system 1 can further include a plurality of reflective markers 32 which can be used for detection, observation and/or tracking of the exosuit 30 by one or more cameras (not shown), to provide an additional sensing input for additional monitoring of the displacement of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d. In the example shown, a tendon sheath base 33 is arranged between the strap 13 and the back support 14 to help route the sheaths 7a, 7b, 7c, 7d of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d via holes in the tendon sheath base 33. Though, it is also envisaged that the tendon sheath base 33 may be arranged at any other position relative to the strap 13 and the back support 14, for example at any position between the ends of the sheaths 7a, 7b, 7c, 7d and the back support 14. In the example shown, the sheaths 7a, 7b, 7c, 7d extend between the strap 13 and the tendon sheath base 33, such that the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d and the elongate sensing elements, 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d are uncovered (i.e. exposed) between the tendon sheath base and the back support 14, as shown in Figure 9. Though, it is also envisaged that the sheaths 7a, 7b, 7c, 7d may be designed to have a longer length between the strap 13 and the back support 14 such that the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d and the elongate sensing elements, 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d are substantially covered/housed along a portion of their respective lengths between the strap 13 and the back support 14.

Alternative routings of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d such that the system 1 may be worn on a different body part shall now be described. Figures 10A through to 30B show alternative systems 1 which are substantially the same as the system 1 as described above and may have any one or more optional features of the system 1 as described above. The exemplary systems shown in Figures 10A through to 30B differ from the system 1 shown in the preceding drawings in that the movement devices are routed to be worn over different groups of muscles/body parts. Additionally, in some devices, additional movement devices are provided, as described below, to provide for 3 DoF control of the movement of a body part. The system 1 shown in Figures 10A and 10B comprises a plurality of movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d arranged symmetrically about an ankle joint of the user 3 to provide for movement control of said ankle joint.

The system 1 shown in Figures 11A and 11 B comprises a plurality of movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d arranged symmetrically about a wrist joint of the user 3 to provide for movement control of said wrist joint.

The system 1 shown in Figures 12A and 12B comprises a plurality of movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d arranged symmetrically about an elbow joint of the user 3 to provide for movement control of said elbow joint.

Figures 13A and 13B show a plurality of devices 1 each worn on a digit (finger or thumb) of a hand of the user 3 to provide for movement control of said digits. Each of the devices 1 comprises a plurality of movement elements 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d arranged symmetrically about a digit of the user 3 to provide for movement control of said digit.

The system 1 shown in Figures 14A and 14B comprises a plurality of movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d arranged symmetrically about the torso of the user 3 to provide for movement control of said torso.

The system 1 shown in Figures 15A and 15B comprises a plurality of movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d arranged symmetrically about the neck of the user 3 to provide for movement control of said neck.

The system 1 shown in Figures 16A and 16B comprises a plurality of movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d arranged symmetrically about a hip joint of the user 3 to provide for movement control of said hip joint. The system 1 shown in Figures 17A and 17B comprises a plurality of movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d arranged symmetrically about a knee joint of the user 3 to provide for movement control of said knee joint.

The system 1 shown in Figure 18A comprises a plurality of movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d arranged symmetrically about an ankle joint of the user 3 to provide for movement control of said ankle joint. In addition, in the example shown in Figure 18A, the system 1 further comprises additional movement devices 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h. While the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d are each arranged to be generally parallel to and coincident with a common effective line of actuation of a pair of muscles of the ankle joint, the additional movement devices 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h are arranged in pairs to cross over one another. In particular, the movement devices 4e and 4f are arranged in a pair to intersect/cross over one another proximate the front of the ankle joint, and the movement devices 4g and 4h are arranged in a pair to intersect/cross over one another proximate the rear of the ankle joint. Advantageously, the additional movement devices 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h may provide for twisting movement of the ankle such that the system 1 is able to provide for 3 DoF movement control. An alternative example routing layout is shown in Figure 18B for providing for movement control of an ankle joint, which also shows a plurality of movement devices 4a ,4b, 4c, 4d, and a plurality of additional movement devices 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h arranged in cross over pairs. The particular routing of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h may be designed by using the results of an optimisation algorithm based on motion capture, optimisation and/or strain field analysis. The number of movement devices and the number of intersecting/crossing pairs of movement devices may be selected depending on the required numbers of degrees of freedom, to advantageously achieve improved control and stability. For example, four movement devices may be employed to achieve 2 DoF movement control, six movement devices may be employed to achieve 3 DoF movement control, and eight movement devices may be employed to achieve 4 DoF movement control.

Systems similar to those shown in Figures 18A and 18B and described in the preceding paragraph are shown in Figures 19A through to 23D, albeit the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d and the additional movement devices 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h are arranged about a different body part of the user 3. This demonstrates how the device 1 may be generalised to/is applicable to a number of different body parts/joints of the user 3. In the exemplary devices shown in Figures 19A through to 23D, a plurality of movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d are arranged symmetrically about the respective body part of the user 3, each being arranged to be generally parallel to and coincident with a common effective line of actuation of a pair of muscles of said body part, and the additional movement devices 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h are arranged in pairs to cross over one another. Advantageously, such systems may provide for 3 DoF movement control. The generalisation of the routing of the movement elements 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d and the additional movement elements 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h and its applicability to different body parts/joints of the user 3 can be understood by referring to Figures 19A through to 23D. These examples shall therefore be discussed below only briefly, as the movement elements 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d and the additional movement elements 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h are substantially identical in configuration, function and relative position to those described above in relation to Figures 1 through to 18B.

The system 1 shown in Figures 19A and 19B comprises a plurality of movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d arranged symmetrically about a wrist joint of the user 3, and a plurality of additional movement devices 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h arranged in pairs to cross over one another around said wrist joint, to provide for movement control of said wrist joint.

The system 1 shown in Figures 20A and 20B comprises a plurality of movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d arranged symmetrically about an elbow joint of the user 3, and a plurality of additional movement devices 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h arranged in pairs to cross over one another around said elbow joint, to provide for movement control of said elbow joint.

The system 1 shown in Figures 21 A and 21 B comprises a plurality of movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d arranged symmetrically about a torso joint of the user 3, and a plurality of additional movement devices 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h arranged in pairs to cross over one another around said torso joint, to provide for movement control of said torso joint. An alternative similar exemplary device for movement control of a torso joint, having a different layout/routing of the additional movement devices 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h, is shown in Figures 21 C and 21 D.

The system 1 shown in Figures 22A and 22B comprises a plurality of movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d arranged symmetrically about a neck joint of the user 3, and a plurality of additional movement devices 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h arranged in pairs to cross over one another around said neck joint, to provide for movement control of said neck joint. An alternative similar exemplary device for movement control of a neck joint, having a different layout/routing of the additional movement devices 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h, is shown in Figures 22C and 22D.

The system 1 shown in Figures 23A and 23B comprises a plurality of movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d arranged symmetrically about a hip joint of the user 3, and a plurality of additional movement devices 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h arranged in pairs to cross over one another around said hip joint, to provide for movement control of said hip joint. An alternative similar exemplary device for movement control of a hip joint, having a different layout/routing of the additional movement devices 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h, is shown in Figures 23C and 23D.

Alternative arrangements for actuating the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d and sensing the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d shall now be described. Figures 24A and 24B show an exemplary system 1 comprising a plurality of movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d. The movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d are arranged symmetrically about an ankle joint of the user 3. In this example, each of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d is coupled to and sensed by a separate respective sensor, such as a string potentiometer (not shown), and each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d is coupled to and actuated by a separate respective actuator, such as a motor (not shown).

In the example shown in Figures 25A and 25B, the system 1 is substantially identical to that shown in Figures 24A and 24B, except that each of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d is instead coupled to and sensed by a plurality of sensors. For example, the elongate sensing element 6a is coupled to and sensed by three sensors, and the elongate sensing element 6b is coupled to and sensed by three sensors. It is envisaged that each of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d may each be coupled to and sensed by any number of sensors.

In the example shown in Figures 26A and 26B, the system 1 is substantially identical to that shown in Figures 24A and 24B, except that each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d is instead coupled to and actuated by a plurality of actuators, such as a plurality of motors. For example, the elongate actuating elements 5a is coupled to and actuated by three actuators, and the elongate actuating element 5b is coupled to and actuated by three actuators. It is envisaged that each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d may each be coupled to and actuated by any number of actuators.

In the example shown in Figures 27A and 27B, the system 1 is substantially identical to that shown in Figures 24A and 24B, except that each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d is instead coupled to and actuated by a plurality of actuators, and in that each of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d is instead coupled to and sensed by a plurality of sensors. For example, the elongate actuating element 5a is coupled to and actuated by three actuators, and the elongate sensing element 6a is coupled to and sensed by three actuators. It is envisaged that each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d may each be coupled to and actuated by any number of actuators, and that each of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d may each be coupled to and sensed by any number of sensors. Alternative arrangements regarding the ends of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d and the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d shall now be described, with reference to Figures 28A through to 30B. In the example shown in Figures 24A and 24B, the second ends 10a, 10b, 10c, 10d of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d each terminate in a single point and are each coupled to a strap or garment (not shown) of the system 1 at a single point, and the second ends 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d also each terminate in a single point and are each coupled to a strap or garment (not shown) of the system 1 at a single point.

In the example shown in Figures 28A and 28B, the system 1 is substantially identical to that shown in Figures 24A and 24B, except that each of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d instead terminates at its respective second end 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d in a plurality of points 60 rather than at a single point. In other words, each of the second ends 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d is frayed or otherwise separated and terminates in a plurality of points 60 and is coupled to a strap or garment (not shown) of the system 1 at a plurality of points. Advantageously, this means that the system 1 may provide for improved force distribution to multiple movement elements 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d such that they do not pull on the straps, garments or any other soft fabric components of the system 1 with excessive force and cause damage/tearing to them. This could also advantageously result in broader coverage of data obtained from the body by the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d and the corresponding sensors. It is envisaged that the plurality of the points 60 of each of the second ends 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d may be coupled to different far apart locations on a strap or garment (not shown) of the system 1.

Similarly, in the example shown in Figures 29A and 29B, the system 1 is substantially identical to that shown in Figures 24A and 24B, except that each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d instead terminates at its respective second end 10a, 10b, 10c, 10d in a plurality of points 50 rather than at a single point. In other words, each of the second ends 10a, 10b, 10c, 10d is frayed otherwise separated and terminates in a plurality of points 50 and is coupled to a strap or garment (not shown) of the system 1 at a plurality of points. Advantageously, this means that the system 1 may provide for improved force distribution to multiple movement elements 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d such that they do not pull on the straps, garments or any other soft fabric components of the system 1 with excessive force and cause damage/tearing to them. This could also advantageously result in broader coverage of data obtained from the body by the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d and the corresponding sensors. It is envisaged that the plurality of the points 50 of each of the second ends 10a, 10b, 10c, 10d may be coupled to different far apart locations on a strap or garment (not shown) of the system 1. In the example shown in Figures 30A and 30B, the system is substantially identical to that shown in Figures 24A and 24B, except that each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d instead terminates at its respective end 10a, 10b, 10c, 10d in a plurality of points 50 rather than at a single point, and in that each of the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d instead terminates at its respective end 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d in a plurality of points 60 rather than at a single point. In other words, each of the second ends 10a, 10b, 10c, 10d is frayed or otherwise separated and terminates in a plurality of points 50 and is coupled to a strap or garment (not shown) of the system 1 at a plurality of points, and each of the second ends 12a, 12b, 12c, 12d is frayed or otherwise separated and terminates in a plurality of points 60 and is coupled to a strap or garment (not shown) of the system 1 at a plurality of points.

Alternative systems 1 which may provide for only sensing or only actuating of the movement of a body part of the user 3 shall now be described, with reference to Figures 31 A through to 32B. The device 1 shown in Figures 31 A and 31 B is substantially identical to that shown in Figures 24A and 24B, except that each of the movement elements comprises only an elongate sensing element 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d, without a corresponding paired elongate actuating element. The elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d are each arranged to be generally parallel to and/or generally coincident with a common effective line of actuation of a pair of muscles of the ankle joint of the user 3, and the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d are also arranged to be approximately equally spaced relative to one another circumferentially about said ankle joint. Such a system 1 may advantageously be used to sense the movement of a user of the system. For example, such a system could be employed in a sensing suit for sensing and monitoring a user’s movements, such as in applications for rehabilitation or sports.

Conversely, the device 1 shown in Figures 32A and 32B is substantially identical to that shown in Figures 24A and 24B, except that each of the movement elements comprises only an elongate actuating element 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d, without a corresponding paired elongate sensing element. The elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d are each arranged to be generally parallel to and/or generally coincident with a common effective line of actuation of a pair of muscles of the ankle joint of the user 3, and the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d are also arranged to be approximately equally spaced relative to one another circumferentially about said ankle joint. Advantageously, such an arrangement may provide that a greater number of elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d is responsible for every movement of the ankle joint of the user 3, meaning that the force applied by each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d to said ankle joint can be reduced to achieve the same total force to applied to said ankle joint. This is particularly advantageous because by reducing the force that each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d is required to apply, it may be possible for the system 1 to comprise soft (e.g. fabric) components, rather than traditionally hard components. This may provide for the system 1 to be employed in a soft, lightweight, low volume and portable exosuit or exoskeleton, rather than a traditionally hard, heavy and bulky exoskeleton. Additionally, this may provide for reduced damage to the system 1 and to an exosuit or exoskeleton employing the system 1 , because excessive forces might otherwise damage the system 1 , particularly if it included soft materials such as fabric.

An alternative system 101 shall now be described, with reference to Figure 33. The system 101 shown in Figure 33 is substantially similar to the systems 1 described above, and like reference numerals denote like elements. The system 101 comprises a plurality of movement devices 40a, 40b, 40c, 40d, which are similar to the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d. Each of the movement devices 40a, 40b, 40c, 40d comprises a respective elongate actuating element 45a, 45b, 45c, 45d that is substantially identical to the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d. The movement devices 40a, 40b, 40c, 40d differ from the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d in that they comprise elongate sensing elements 46a, 46b, 46c, 46d. The elongate sensing elements 46a, 46b, 46c, 46d differ from the elongate sensing elements 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d in that they each comprise a first portion 50a, 50b, 50c, 50d and a second portion 51 a, 51 b, 51c, 51 d. The first portion 50a, 50b, 50c, 50d of each of the elongate sensing elements 46a, 46b, 46c, 46d is arranged generally parallel to the corresponding paired elongate actuating element 45a, 45b, 45c, 45d. The second portion 51a, 51 b, 51c, 51 d of each of the elongate sensing elements 46a, 46b, 46c, 46d comprises a plurality of fibres 48, as shown in Figure 33. The plurality of fibres 48 are arranged to be spaced apart from one another and to extend away from an endpoint of the respective first portions 50a, 50b, 50c, 50d of the elongate sensing elements 46a, 46b, 46c, 46d. Such elongate sensing elements 46a, 46b, 46c, 46d may be inspired by the natural human muscle fibre layout and may have the ability to sense both pressure and stretch, by including electrodes and/or fibre optics in said fibres 48, for example. Sensing data obtained from multiple fibres 48 may correspond to the data obtained from a single muscle fused together. Advantageously, such elongate sensing elements 46a, 46b, 46c, 46d may provide for improved cross-coverage of the shoulder joint 2 of the user 3, by each sensing movement over an entire muscle rather than along one single line of a muscle. Advantageously, this may provide for systems and exosuits including such systems that have reduced volume, portability and weight, and also the ability to add haptic capability.

Alternative possible routings/layouts of the movement devices relative to one another shall now be discussed, with reference to the exemplary devices 1 shown in Figures 34A through to 36B, which are arranged about a wrist joint of a user 3. While in some of the examples described above, one or more of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, 4, 4f, 4g, 4h may each be arranged to be generally parallel to and coincident with a common effective line of actuation of a pair of muscles of a body part and/or to be generally parallel to one another, and in some examples, in addition or alternatively, one or more of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, 4, 4f, 4g, 4h may be arranged in pairs to cross over one another, it is also envisaged that in addition or alternatively, one or more movement devices may be arranged to converge or diverge relative to one another. This can best be understood by comparing Figures 35A and 35B with Figures 34A, 34B, 36A and 36B. In the exemplary arrangement shown in Figures 35A and 35B, the movement devices 4a, 4b are arranged to be generally parallel to one another.

In the exemplary arrangement shown in Figures 34A and 34B, the movement devices 4a, 4b are arranged to diverge relative to one another, relative to the direction along the user’s 3 arm from their elbow towards their fingertips. Such an arrangement may alternatively be thought of as converging relative to the opposite direction along the user’s 3 arm from their finger tips towards their elbow. In other words, the movement devices 4a, 4b in such an arrangement are arranged to be at an angle relative to one another. In the example shown, the angle is approximately 15°. Though, it is also envisaged that the movement devices may be arranged at any other angle relative to one another, for example at an angle of 20° or less therebetween, or preferably with any angle of 15° or less therebetween.

Conversely, in the exemplary arrangement shown in Figures 36A and 36B, the movement devices 4a, 4b are arranged to converge relative to one another, relative to the direction along the user’s 3 arm from their elbow towards their finer tips. Such an arrangement may alternatively be thought of as diverging relative to the opposite direction along the user’s 3 arm from their fingertips towards their elbow. In the example shown, the angle is approximately 15°. Though, it is also envisaged that the movement devices may be arranged at any other angle relative to one another, for example at an angle of 20° or less therebetween, or preferably with any angle of 15° or less therebetween.

Arranging one or more of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d to be generally converging and/or generally diverging relative to one another can provide for a difference in the horizontal components of the forces applied by the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d in the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d. Advantageously, this difference can be utilised to provide for misalignment correction/compensation. It is envisaged that in a system according to the present disclosure, one or all of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h may be arranged to be generally parallel, generally converging, or generally diverging relative to one another. The routing/layout of the movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, 4e, 4f, 4g, 4h relative to one another and relative to the muscles of the user 3 may be chosen depending on the particular body part intended for use with the system, and depending on the amount of misalignment correction/compensation required.

By way of the examples described above it can be seen that the systems 1 , 101 may be generalised and/or adapted to be worn on a body part that is not a shoulder joint, to control the motion of a desired body part of a user 3. For example, it is envisaged that the systems and exosuits described herein could be worn on and to control the movement of any joint of a user of the system, such as a shoulder, hip, ankle, torso, wrist, finger, thumb, neck, elbow or knee joint, or any other body part.

Finally, the advantages of the examples described above shall now be discussed below, with additional advantages of said examples being outlined in the preceding“Summary” section. The systems 1 , 101 and the exosuit 30 described above can provide for the improved movement control of a body part of a user of such systems. In each of the at least one movement devices 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, the elongate sensing element 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d may provide for the determination of the real displacement and the amount of any stretch that may be induced in the elongate actuating element 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d, thus providing for the prediction and compensation of backlash in the elongate actuating element 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d. Additionally, the elongate sensing element 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d may provide for the sensing of misalignment in the movement device 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d, and to compensate for variations in the alignment of the movement device 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d on a body part of a user 3 using the system 1 , 101. In addition, the elongate actuating element 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d may provide for the detection of the position of the muscles of a body part of a user 3 using the system 1 , 101 advantageously simulating the human sense of proprioception, to provide improved movement control of said user 3. The elongate sensing element 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d may provide for a complete and intuitive sensing system, and may be used to drive the motor 16a, 16b, 16c, 16d and the elongate sensing element 6a, 6b, 6c, 6d, the system 1 , 101 simulating the human sense of proprioception and the human muscle system in general.

Furthermore, since such a system 1 , 101 is able to provide both sensing and actuating capabilities, such a system may allow for the provision of haptic feedback, for example when each of the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d applies a small force to at least one body part of a user 3 of the system. This may be particularly advantageous for applications for surgeons or other specialists who could control such robots while getting accurate force feedback through the elongate actuating elements 5a, 5b, 5c, 5d. This could also be particularly advantageous for applications such as the ability to apply passive forces thereby enabling gravity compensation for a user of the system. This could be useful for people such as industry workers, manual labourers, surgeons etc. , who work in one position for many hours: such a system could advantageously provide for the offloading of the weight of the limbs of such a person, thus enabling them to work for longer hours and/or to work with reduced effort and/or fatigue.

Advantageously, such a system 1 , 101 may thus be advantageously employed in applications such as: assistive applications for the ageing population, the military and/or industry workers; resistive applications for physical therapy, portable/wearable gym equipment, and/or for astronauts; full-body haptic interface/teleoperation exosuits for people such as astronauts or surgeons to control robotic devices; and/or gravity compensation for people such as surgeons and/or industry workers. Various modifications may be made to the described embodiment(s) without departing from the scope of the invention as defined by the accompanying claims.