Sadly, over 500,000 people end up in wheelchairs every year with half those people also suffering from hand-related disabilities. This figure doesn’t even include people who are diagnosed solely with hand-based injuries and disabilities.
In an effort to help the disabled and elderly regain strength and ability to use their hands, researchers at Seoul National University in South Korea have designed a robotic glove made from a flexible polymer material called the Exo-Glove Poly. The primary functions of the glove are defined by breaking down the device’s name. The term “Exo” is derived from the Greek word for “outside,” while “Poly” originates from the Greek term for “many” (along with alluding to the glove’s polymer-based composition).
The exo-glove poly has three slots for the thumb, index, and middle fingers with wires attached to them that are embedded in a tendon-like strip of polymer material. The wires are moved by a small motor, controlled by a switch that prompts the wires to open and close the user’s hand.
As a result, the glove’s wearer is able to grip and lift objects weighing up to one pound and can perform basic tasks like pouring beverages. Aside from giving the disabled a stronger sense of control over their limbs, the exo-glove polymer can serve as a catalyst to help people like the elderly grip objects more firmly.
The exo-glove polymer’s design is adjustable to various hand sizes, lightweight, compact, and has been praised for its simplicity by people that were used in the device’s trial testing. Not only can the glove be worn every day, but the device is also waterproof, protects its wearers from injury, and can be removed and washed if it ever gets dirty.
While there have been previous glove models produced in the past, these devices based their control of motion by detecting nerve impulses from a user’s arm muscles. These robotic gloves were extremely complicated to use, and had sporadic rates of efficiency and reliability for its wearers.
Although the exo-glove poly is in its early stages of development, researchers at SNU hope to have the device available by the end of 2017.
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)