Xinyang Tan

Xinyang Tan

PhD Candidate



Xinyang received his MSc in Design Engineering from the Imperial College London in 2016 and BA in Industrial Design from the Tsinghua University in 2014. After more than one years running his start-up of developing a smart wearable upper-extremity rehabilitation device, he started his PhD in the Thrish Lab, a soft robotics lab based at the Dyson School of Design Engineering of the Imperial College London. Xinyang’s current project is about developing a data-driven method to improve the effectiveness of upper-extremity orthoses and optimise fabrication processes.

Description of research

We are developing a data-driven method to improve the effectiveness of upper-limb orthoses and optimise fabrication processes. In the NHS report 2015 – Improving the Quality of Orthotics Services in England, rising demand and variation in delivery and quality of orthoses prescribed to patients have been revealed. The importance to improve the orthotic services in terms of clinical and cost benefits and patients’ (and their relatives’) experiences during making and using those orthoses have been highlighted. Issues have been found through over 130 cases of poor quality, including:

  • Long waiting time – patients wait for months to obtain the correct orthoses
  • Many cases of delays in early orthotic intervention resulting in increased costs of care to NHS
  • Lack of getting the orthoses fitted “right first time”

Therefore, we are undertaking research to look at how to address these problems, hoping to bring huge benefits to patients, practitioners and NHS.

The conventional thermoplastic casting has been well developed. However, challenges of splinting have been found in practice, for example, when complex positioning is needed, long-term splints with complicated structure are required and splinting on hands with severe deformity or spasticity etc. Splinting jobs can be difficult and cooperation of two or more therapists are often needed to accomplish these tasks.

The research aims to develop splinting processes for these complex cases, making the splinting process simpler, more controllable and time-saving with even cheaper solutions.

Research interests

  • Rehabilitation
  • Soft robotics
  • Design Engineering
  • Mechanics
  • Medical devices
  • Tunable stiffness control

Recent projects

Xinyang has experience of conducting or joining many projects regarding medical device developments. Several products he worked on have been on market or manufacture, including a healthcare monitor toolkit, a smart rehabilitation device, a Hifi speaker, a surgery device, a foot-drop stimulation device, a Parkinson’s disease footwear etc. The following are two of his recent-year projects.

  1. A smart active rehabilitation device for upper-extremity (Development undertaking)

This project was my Master graduation project. It has won many innovation and technology awards including Helen Hamlyn Design Award for Healthcare, Wates Giving Award, InnovationRCA Award etc. The project has been reported by more than ten news media like Reuters. The product contains a self-developed artificial muscle system and an intelligent control system. When a patient with upper-extremity impairments wearing this device, they just need to use very little force; then the device will detect how much force they are using, which direction and angle they are performing, and the artificial muscle will be activated in real time to provide a proper, extra strength to help the wearer to complete the intended motion. Patients can also play video games while wearing the device.

2. A footwear device for Parkinson’s patients to assist walking and prevent fall (Product launched in EU)

The device (Walk With Path) assists walking through providing a visual guidance to help patients keep balance and prevent fall. I took part in the early-middle development of the product. The project have won many innovation and healthcare awards including Health Social Innovators, Inclusive Technology Prize, James Dyson Foundation etc.