Sensor-instrumented e-glove improves prosthetic hand performance

Researchers in the US have developed an electronic glove that can improve the performance of conventional prosthetic hands.  

The electronic glove is claimed to offer 'humanlike' features for prosthetic hand users. Credit: Purdue University/Chris Adam

Designed to be worn over a conventional prosthetic hand, the so-called e-glove, which was developed by a team at Purdue University in Indiana, uses sensors to measure factors such as pressure, temperature, and hydration and then uses electronic chips to send this data to a specially developed wristwatch.

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The e-glove uses thin, flexible electronic sensors and miniaturised silicon-based circuit chips and is connected to a specially designed wristwatch, allowing for real-time display of sensory data and remote transmission to the user for post-data processing.

Chi Hwan Lee, an assistant professor in Purdue's College of Engineering who worked on the development of the technology said:  "We 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 multimodal sensors to collect various information such as pressure, temperature, humidity and electrophysiological biosignals, while simultaneously providing realistic human hand-like softness, appearance and even warmth."

The team claims that glove can be cost-effectively manufacturable in high volumes, and represents an affordable alternative to much more expensive emerging smart prosthetic technologies such as mind, voice and muscle controlled systems.

Lee and Min Ku Kim, an engineering doctoral student at Purdue and a co-author on the paper, have worked to patent the technology with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialisation. The team is now seeking partners to collaborate in clinical trials or experts in the prosthetics field to validate the use of the e-glove and to continue optimising the design of the glove.

A paper on the technology is published in the August 30 edition of NPG Asia Materials.