Puppet theatre in Augsburg uses Ottobock exoskeleton in new cabaret programme

In December 2019, the puppeteers of the Augsburger Puppenkiste, a puppet theatre in Augsburg, Germany, began working with one of our exoskeletons. The puppeteers are now using the Paexo Shoulder exoskeleton from Ottobock for the first time.

“Holding and moving the hand puppets above your head for several minutes at a stretch is really hard work. The exoskeleton is an incredible help to the puppeteers in this situation. It takes the strain off their shoulders and upper arms so they can concentrate more on performing and are less tired out after the show.” Klaus Marschall

The Augsburger Puppenkiste became especially well known for its television productions in the 1960s with the characters Jim Knopf and Urmel. The puppeteer wears the Paexo Shoulder close to the body, similar to a backpack. The weight of their lifted arms is directed via arm shells to the hips, by means of mechanical pull-cable technology. The mechanism provides noticeable relief for the muscles and joints in the shoulder area, and moving the hand puppets overhead is much more comfortable.

“We tested the exoskeleton in various situations over the course of several months. It’s a huge help when we’re performing with the hand puppets, and we will also use it in the marionette theatre in future where the situation requires it – which is any time the marionette is used on an elevated prop and the puppeteer really has to stretch. Our team of 18 puppeteers is exposed to extreme physical strain. In the past, we often had team members who were unable to perform due to back pain, so now we take a preventive approach. A physiotherapist comes to do exercises with us every two weeks, for example. And the Paexo Shoulder will now help to make our workplace a healthier one as well.” Klaus Marschall

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The Paexo Shoulder exoskeleton from Ottobock supports puppeteer Hans Kautzmann as he works. It enables him to hold the pair of meerkat puppets overhead for longer, meaning he can concentrate more on the actual performance.

Originally Ottobock developed the Paexo Shoulder together with Volkswagen to support employees in production during strenuous overhead installation tasks. The partnership between the Augsburger Puppenkiste and Paexo began when one of the puppeteers came across the product online. Klaus Marschall then got in touch with us to test how the exoskeleton worked behind the stage. Weighing just 1.9 kilograms, the Paexo Shoulder is the lightest exoskeleton of its kind. The puppeteers particularly appreciate the fact that the exoskeleton is geared towards natural human movements. They can move freely behind the stage while wearing it and can bend over, walk, sit and lift objects.













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