People with amputations face challenges in performing daily tasks. The discomfort leads to life-long use of prosthetic hands and limbs. Therefore, electronic prosthetics are stepping into the business, to provide better services and more comfort while wearing them.
Researchers at Purdue University have developed an electronic glove, or an e-glove, which can be worn over a prosthetic limb to achieve human-like softness, sensations, warmth and sensations such as temperature, pressure, and hydration.
A traditional prosthetic hand provides mobility and the new innovative e-glove provides realistic features of a human hand. The use of these features in daily life and activities will help boost the self-esteem and well being of the users in a social context.
The e-gloves use flexible and thin electronic sensors and miniature versions of silicon-based circuit chips on the regularly used and commercially available nitrile gloves. A digital wristwatch is connected to the glove that allows real-time display of data and remote transmission to the user for data processing.
Chi Hwan Lee, an assistant professor at Purdue’s College of Engineering and other researchers at Purdue, University of Georgia and Texas collaborated on the development of the new technology. Lee says that they have developed a novel concept of the soft-packaged, sensor-instrumented e-glove built on a commercial nitrile glove, allowing it to seamlessly fit on arbitrary hand shapes. The e-glove is configured with a stretchable form of multimodel sensors to collect various information such as pressure, temperature, humidity, and electro-physiological bio-signals, while simultaneously providing realistic human hand-like softness, appearance, and warmth. The glove is available in different skin tones, has fingerprints and artificial fingernails.
The researchers feel that wearing a prosthetic hand hampers the self-confidence of the users who have already been through the traumatic experience of limb amputation. The prospective end-user can be any prosthetic hand users who have ever felt comfortable wearing prosthetic hands in a social context.
The manufacturing process of the e-glove is economic and the manufacturing of these gloves could be done on a large scale. This makes the e-glove a preferable option over the current prosthetics that are embedded with the mind, muscle and voice controls and are available at a higher price range. The main feature of the e-glove that makes it better than other counterparts is the human-like feel and the ability to feel sensations. Lee’s group is devoted to developing various wearable biomedical devices and other equipment to help the people in need. The recent innovation acts as proof that represents continues work in the field of material sciences and technology.