Healthcare innovation, creating and improving for independent living

Developments in medical aid devices are always ongoing. As a manufacturer of these medical devices, Focal is constantly working to apply the latest technology to products in order to remain at the forefront of healthcare innovation. This benefits our users enormously. New products are also constantly being developed.

The R&D team that focuses on innovation consists of a group of people, each with their own field of expertise. The integration of technological and medical knowledge lies at the core of the team. This is necessary in order to be able to continue to play an effective role in this complex field.

Focal’s slogan is “Listen, Create, Improve”. Focal is committed to remaining close to its users and listening carefully to their needs. This allows us to develop and produce the best products for our users.

In addition to direct user feedback, Focal also works very actively with various knowledge institutions, universities and interest groups to come up with new healthcare innovations.

R&D Updates

Want to work with us?

We like to work with organizations and/or knowledge institutions that conduct research and development into medical devices orientated to arm supports, robot technology and head support.

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Current R&D projects

Focal collaborates with these organisations

Holland Robotics


Rijksuniversiteit Groningen

Roessingh Centrum voor revalidatie

Roessingh Research and Development

Technische Universiteit Eindhoven

University of Twente


Maastricht University

Project history

Othello (2012-2017):
In 2021, Focal launched the Othello Project (Eurostars) together with two German partners, Fraunhofer and Götting. The focus of the project was to develop an affordable service robot. Focal was responsible for the development of a special robot arm, for the integration of all the system components and the user interface. The development of Othello was carried out using the relevant market and user research. The first evaluations with regard to design goals were successfully carried out.

Symbionics (2014-2018):
Within the Symbionics project (NWO TTW), Focal participated in two sub-projects, Symbionics 2.1 and 2.2. Symbionics 2.1 mapped which muscles are used in which way during activities in daily life and how an arm support changes that movement pattern. Within Symbionics 2.2, several prototypes were developed by different researchers to support the head and torso. Focal’s R&D department was directly involved in the development of a position-controlled, adaptive head support system.

aHead (2017-2019):
In this two-year project, funded by the Revalidatiefonds, Focal collaborated with Roessingh Research and Development to develop an advanced and intuitive head support system. To achieve this, experimental research was done on head movements and the interaction between the head and head support systems.

enHANCE (2015-2019):
the goal of the eNHANCE project (H2020) was to develop, demonstrate and initiate new concepts to improve and train upper limb motor skills during daily activities. Focal’s work included the development of several prototypes used within the project, as well as a pilot of a head posture system implemented on an ExoArm prototype.

COVR (2020-ongoing):
In early 2020, Focal received a grant from the COVR project to investigate the safety of exoskeletons supporting reduced arm function mounted on an electric wheelchair. The introduction of these assistive collaborative robots (cobots) into everyday life raises several new safety challenges as they are in direct contact with the user. Their intended use includes actions that may be very close to vulnerable body parts and other persons in the immediate vicinity. Therefore, research at Focal focused on developing new methods to identify and evaluate the product-related and use-related safety risks of assistive cobots.

COVR (2020):
Begin 2020 ontving Focal een subsidie van het COVR project om de veiligheid te onderzoeken van exoskeletten die een verminderde armfunctie ondersteunen die zijn gemonteerd op een elektrisch rolstoel. De introductie van deze ondersteunende collaboratieve robots (cobots) in het dagelijks leven brengt verschillende nieuwe veiligheidsuitdagingen met zich mee aangezien deze in direct contact staan met de gebruiker. Het beoogde gebruik hiervan omvat handelingen die zeer dicht bij kwetsbare lichaamsdelen en andere personen in de directe omgeving kunnen bevinden. Daarom richtte het onderzoek binnen Focal zich op het ontwikkelen van nieuwe methoden om product- en gebruiksgerelateerde veiligheidsrisico’s van ondersteunende cobots te identificeren en te evalueren.


Bergsma, A. et al. (2014) ‘Upper extremity kinematics and muscle activation patterns in subjects with facioscapulohumeral dystrophy’, Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Elsevier Ltd, 95(9), pp. 1731–1741. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2014.03.033.

Bergsma, A. et al. (2016) ‘1st Workshop on Upper-Extremity Assistive Technology for People with Duchenne: State of the art, emerging avenues, and challenges. April 27th 2015, London, United Kingdom.’, Neuromuscular Disorders, 26(6), pp. 386–393. doi: 10.1016/j.nmd.2016.04.005.

Bernd, T., Pijl, D. Van Der and Witte, L. P. De (2014) ‘Existing models and instruments for the selection of assistive technology in rehabilitation practice’, 8128. doi: 10.1080/11038120802449362.

Essers, J. M. N. H. et al. (2013) ‘An inverse dynamic analysis on the influence of upper limb gravity compensation during reaching’, IEEE International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics. IEEE, pp. 1–5. doi: 10.1109/ICORR.2013.6650368.

Geers, A. M. et al. (2021) ‘Head support in wheelchairs (Scoping review) – State-of-the-art and beyond [Accepted]’, Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology.

Van Der Heide, L. A. et al. (2014) ‘An overview and categorization of dynamic arm supports for people with decreased arm function’, Prosthetics and Orthotics International, 38(4), pp. 287–302. doi: 10.1177/0309364613498538.

Van Der Heide, L. A. et al. (2017) ‘How could the service delivery process of dynamic arm supports be optimized?’, Technology and Disability, 29(3), pp. 101–108. doi: 10.3233/TAD-160160.

Heutinck, L. et al. (2018) ‘Virtual Reality Computer Gaming with Dynamic Arm Support in Boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy’, Journal of Neuromuscular Diseases, 5(3), pp. 359–372. doi: 10.3233/JND-180307.

van Ninhuijs, B. et al. (2013) ‘Overview of actuated arm support systems and their applications’, Actuators, 2(4), pp. 86–110. doi: 10.3390/act2040086.

Van Der Pijl, D., Verdonschot, M. and Adriaens, L. (2007) ‘An Approach for the Provision of Assistive Technology for People with Intellectual Disabilities’, in Assistive Technologies Research Series – Volume 20, pp. 593–597.

Conference contributions
Geers, A. M. et al. (2019) ‘Design of a dynamic and adaptive head support [Poster]’, in 7th Dutch Bio-Medical Engineering Conference. Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands.

Geers, A. M. et al. (2020) ‘Influence of imposed head movements on head kinematics [Oral presentation]’, in XXIII ISEK Congress. Online.

Geers, A. M. et al. (2021) ‘Comparison of kinematics of imposed head movements and head movements in free space [Oral presentation]’, in 8th Dutch Bio-Medical Engineering Conference. Online.

Verstegen, P. and van Oene, E. (2019) ‘A novel design of an actuated five degree of freedom arm support [Oral presentation]’, in 7th Dutch Bio-Medical Engineering Conference. Egmond aan Zee, The Netherlands.