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A New Grasp on Robotic Glove

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The soft robotic glove could help patients suffering from hand impairments regain some independence and control of their environment.

Researchers at Harvard University have demonstrated a soft robotic glove that could help people with hand movement impairments.

Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

Harvard University researchers have demonstrated a proof-of-concept prototype and completed experimental testing on a soft robotic glove that could help people suffering from loss of hand motor control to regain some of their daily independence.

The technology incorporates social and psychological elements of design that promote translation and seamless adoption by its intended users. The researchers incorporated the patients' feedback at every stage of development of the glove to maximize its potential for translation. "In addition to glove function, we found that people cared about its appearance, which could have a big impact on whether or not the glove would be a welcome part of their daily routine," says Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering researcher Kevin Galloway.

The researchers adapted the mechanics of the glove to make it more comfortable and natural feeling to wearers. The glove is equipped with soft, multi-segment actuators that support the range of motions performed by biological fingers.

The researchers now are working to improve the glove control system to enable it to detect the intent of the wearer. "The current goal is to refine the overall system sufficiently so we can begin a feasibility trial with multiple patients later this year," says Harvard Biodesign Lab founder Conor Walsh.

From Harvard Gazette
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