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 sensors and actuators
  • Design Engineering
  • Biomechanics
  • Medical devices


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.