Electronic Glove Offers “Humanlike” Features for Hand Prostheses

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Researchers at Purdue University have developed an electronic glove, or e-glove, that can be worn over a hand prosthesis to provide humanlike softness, warmth, appearance, and sensory perception, such as the ability to sense pressure, temperature and hydration.

The e-glove uses thin, flexible electronic sensors and miniaturized silicon-based circuit chips on the commercially available nitrile glove. The e-glove 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, PhD, an assistant professor in Purdue's College of Engineering, in collaboration with other researchers at Purdue, the University of Georgia, and the University of Texas, collaborated on the development of the e-glove technology.

The glove is worn over a hand prosthesis.

Photograph courtesy of Purdue University.

"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," Lee said. "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."

Lee and his team hope that the appearance and capabilities of the e-glove will improve the well-being of prosthetic hand users by allowing them to feel more comfortable in social contexts. The glove is available in different skin tone colors, has lifelike fingerprints, and artificial fingernails.

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 Commercialization.  The technology is published in the August 30 edition of NPG Asia Materials.

Editor's note: This story was adapted by materials provided by Purdue University.