The ExoHand, a robotic limb developed by Festo Corporation, headquartered in Esslingen, Germany, has been designed to enhance strength and endurance of a human hand. Proposed uses include extending the scope of human-machine interaction via remote manipulations, and serving as a rehabilitation device for people with impaired hand function, whether due to age, injury, or disease.
As a rehabilitative device, the ExoHand can be used as an active manual orthosis. Since all the joints and their drive units are located outside the actual hand in the form of the exoskeleton, the device can be fitted not only over the human hand, but also over an artificial hand made of silicone. Together with an external brain-computer interface (BCI), the device allows a closed feedback loop to be established to regenerate the damaged connection from the brain to the hand. The user’s thought to open or close his or her hand is recorded by means of an electroencephalographic signal (EEG) measured on the subject’s head, which over time can enabled users to move their hands without technical assistance.
As a means of extending the scope of human-machine interaction, the ExoHand exoskeleton can be worn by an operator whose hand movements are registered and transmitted to a robotic hand. In this capacity, the glove could be worn by assembly-line workers to prevent or reduce fatigue and joint stress, or for the purpose of provided amplified strength to the task at hand.
Festo’s ExoHand design received the second place, best-in-show Hermes Creative Award during the April 2012 Hannover Messe Industrial Fair in Germany, where it was unveiled for the first time. The Hermes Creative Awards is an international competition from the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals for creative professionals involved in the concept, writing, and design of traditional materials and programs, and emerging technologies.