Behind the scenes of developing the ORTHOPUS Partner

Today, we are opening the doors to the behind-the-scenes of developing the ORTHOPUS Partner, our upcoming medical device! We are revealing everything about what we still need to do, our co-design work with alpha tests, the design we aimed to achieve, and the accessories we still need to finalize…

Designed to offer greater autonomy to people living with muscle weakness in their upper limbs, this robotic arm support promises an improvement in the daily lives of its users.

The ORTHOPUS Partner, the big brother of the ORTHOPUS Supporter with expanded capabilities

The ORTHOPUS Partner is the second product in our range of robotic assistants.

It provides more support, while the ORTHOPUS Supporter compensates for arm mobility on a single vertical axis, the ORTHOPUS Partner assists on two additional axes:


  • front-back
  • left-right

It can also lock on each axis independently of the others: for example, for eating, the device can be set to lock the arm on the sides. This allows assistance in raising the arm without it moving sideways.

Co-creation design

One of the distinctive features of ORTHOPUS development lies in our co-design approach. Instead of following a “classic” linear development, we opted for an iterative and collaborative process. We had some practice with the ORTHOPUS Supporter and we learn from our mistakes (and our successes too).

We work in two phases with alpha tests followed by beta tests! Here, when we talk about alpha tests, it involves direct collaboration with a small number of users for immediate feedback.
The alpha test lasts about a day; we arrive with our device to conduct various tests, then we leave with it.

For the beta tests, we gather opinions from a larger panel before market release, leaving our technical aid with them for several days so that people can use it in their daily environment.

Users at the center of our development

From the first phase, we worked with two users (the alpha testers) to validate different elements, such as installing, presenting, and testing the device in various scenarios… But also to define reference gestures, measure its speed, and verify the handling of the remote control that directs our technical aid…

“It feels like someone is helping me”
A reaction during an alpha test

Thanks to the direct feedback from the alpha testers, we were able to quickly refine certain key aspects of the ORTHOPUS Partner!

“This is so cool!”
A reaction during an alpha test

Usability testing in various medical-social establishments

In parallel with our alpha tests, we collaborate with the Tech Lab of Lille in particular. Together, we conduct usability tests within medical-social establishments with defined inclusion criteria and scenarios.

The tests are conducted with people who have motor difficulties in their upper limbs. These tests were supervised by an occupational therapist from the Maison Universelle in Villeneuve d’Ascq and a project manager from the Tech Lab of APF France Handicap. The project manager conducted the interviews and developed the scenarios to follow, while the occupational therapist ensured proper installation, correct movement execution, and managed any potential pain.

The ORTHOPUS Family Look: a safe, gentle, and reliable design!

Beyond functionality, the aesthetics of the design play a major role in our design process.

We enlisted the designers from Estech Studio for the design of the ORTHOPUS Partner (as for the ORTHOPUS Supporter). We aimed for a fluid and customizable design, true to the ORTHOPUS family look. Our key words? Safe, gentle, and reliable! The ORTHOPUS Partner will be available with interchangeable shells in different colors and with the possibility to change the image in the badge to best meet individual user preferences.

Estech first conducted a research phase, drawing inspiration from various commercial objects such as drills or vacuum cleaners (like Dyson) to define potential design directions (rest assured, we are not making a drill-vacuum robot).

In phase 2, Thibault, R&D coordinator and mechatronics engineer at ORTHOPUS, sent the skeleton of the ORTHOPUS Partner to the design studio so they could imagine an initial base for our robotic aid.

Thibault then worked on this base, drawing inspiration from the shapes proposed by Estech. He created a 3D design using dedicated software and a 3D print to allow us to visualize the project. Estech refined this 3D file to create the final model, making a few minor tweaks.

Concept de l’ORTHOPUS Partner, réalisé par le studio de design Estech

What's left to do to market our upper limb assistive device?

The road to market our assistive device is still paved with important steps! We have quite a few things to do before the commercial release of the device, including:

  • Making adjustments to the prototype to bring it to a near-final stage (these modifications will improve the prototype based on user feedback and our accumulated experiences!)
  • Finalizing the work of Estech designers to adapt it to the mechanical skeleton, thus having beautiful, functional, and customizable shells.
  • Finalizing the accessories: the central box and all the electronics it contains (this is the box that connects the various power and control elements of the ORTHOPUS Partner), the chair interface, the remote control (moving from prototype #2 to prototype #3).
  • Continuing our alpha tests to test the equipment and also the behavior of the ORTHOPUS Partner to refine its UX (user experience).
  • Conducting electrical tests to comply with European regulations on medical devices.
  • Completing our technical file and user manual.
  • Designing the packaging…

However, this is an exhaustive list of remaining tasks! The design of a robotic aid for upper limbs is a lengthy process where multiple professions collaborate simultaneously, which can affect the schedule! We must also consider manufacturing and production times…

But we are very excited to share with you every step of this robotic and human adventure, where empathy and innovation come together to create transformative solutions, HANDITECH SOLUTIONS FOR EVERYONE!

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