Soft robotic glove a boon for people with hand motor disabilities
People with hand motor disabilities (partial or complete) often face low confidence owing to their inability to perform normal daily activities. This further leads to a great reduction in their quality of life. There have been few miraculous innovations to help such patients regain confidence, but the new soft robotic glove by Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) engineers, is a near perfect execution.
The soft robotic glove developed under the leadership of soft wearable robotics expert PhD. Conor Walsh is designed to allow people with hand motor control difficulties to execute everyday tasks like buttoning a shirt, eating and or picking up things like a phone, more easily and with complete independence. Check the demonstration of the glove in the video below.
The team of engineers working on the glove has been able to reach a near perfect assistive invention since they have tried to understand real-world challenges faced by patients suffering with hand motor control difficulties. The team has personally visited numerous homes with such patients to get their feedback at each stage of the development. The idea of constant interaction with patients has allowed the team to develop a soft glove which is comfortable and feels very natural to wearers.
The soft robotic glove features multi–segment actuators that are composite tube-like constructions made from Kevlar fibers and silicone elastomer. These support a large range of motions performed by fingers. The glove supports a very portable control system which can be worn on the waist belt or can be attached to a wheelchair.
The glove is still work in progress and the team is working on improving the glove control system to detect wearer’s intent. The team is contemplating on using electromyography with small electrical sensors embedded in some part of the glove to capture and understand brain signals to move the hand in the direction desired by the wearer. A great idea, especially when the team wants to develop the glove as a rehabilitation tool in addition to an assistive device.