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Sensitive Touch –intelligent gloves for prosthetic arms
- Intelligent gloves for prosthetic arms
- Sensitive touch is the outcome of a brief in which I was required to develope a product concept and initialise a business identity, for the start-up company 'Footfalls and Heartbeats'.The company had developed a break-through technology; an 'Intelligent Fabric’ with the ability to register pressure, stretch and compression. The company had a basic direction for the development of the technology but lacked a suitable product for its application,as well as a sound business Identity. My Brief, therefore, was to "create Identity through New Products".
- Sensitive Touch is a touch sensitive glove, and feedback system, for prosthetic arms. It allows its users to 'feel' with their artificial arm, ridding of the disabling practical and emotional issues caused by lack of sensitivity.This is achieved by using F&H's intelligent fabric as sensors in the hand. Touch stimulation in the glove is translated onto the skin of the users remaining limb (or stump) through small electrical pulses. The product works with its users existing mechanical or mioelectric arm, so the user can experience the full benefit of touch sensing technology without having to purchase a new prosthesis. The product is also custom fit and personalised with its owners hand shape, finger prints and chosen colour palette.
- Sensitive Touch provides the opportunity for amputees to convert their lifeless prosthetic arms into beautiful, functional, enviable body parts.
- How Does It Work?
- Part1: Touch Sensitive Glove (input device)
- The glove features F&H's intelligent fabric as individual sensors on the four fingers, thumb and palm. An electrical current continuously passes through the sensors. Pressure on any one sensor causes a change in electrical resistivity.
- An electrical circuit within a conductive fabric carries current, from a battery in the upper arm cuff to fingers and back again.
- Part2: Electrical Pulse Emitting Cuff (output device)
- The changes in electrical resistivity are registered and converted to electrical outputs by a circuit board in the cuff.
- Finger, thumb and palm representations, situated around the cuff, give off electrical pulses to the skin, corresponding to stimulation in the glove. The pulses are graduated so the user experiences firmness and accuracy of touch.
- We express our personalities through the objects we chose to own and the clothes we chose to wear. Why should prosthetics be treated any other way? Sensitive touch offers a form of personal expression not commonly employed in the prosthetics world. Rather than hiding their artificial arm or trying to make it look 'real', Sensitive Touch allows its owner to celebrate their prosthesis. Each glove is custom made to fit and displays a personalised colour scheme. On top of that, the Touch Pattern; which defines how its user experiences 'feeling' with the glove, is made to mirror the shape of its users existing hand. With processes such as 3D Scanning and Laser etching, every last detail can be mimicked, right down to finger prints.
- Design Advantages
- Our hands define our relationship to the people and objects around us. To lose an arm is a more emotionally damaging experience than most “able-bodied” humans could ever imagine. Sensitive touch would reconnect amputees with the world around them, helping them to regain confidence and pride in their own bodies.
The product would gift its owner’s endless practical advantages, from the ability to hold a drinking glass with the correct amount of pressure, to simple tasks such as turning the page in a book. However the aspects of Sensitive Touch which hold the most potential are not the practical benefits, but the emotional ones. For a young amputee to feel the pressure of a lovers touch or for an amputee mother to caress her baby after not having ‘felt’ for years; these are the real goals of this project.
- The Sensitive Touch glove fits semi-permanently to its users prosthetic. It generally remains on the artificial arm but can be easily removed for washing. The upper arm cuff is put on to the users remaining limb prior to attaching their prosthesis and connects to the glove with a magnetic fastening.
- This project was awarded:
- Methven Award for Innovation and Excellence in Design - 2011Awarded by: Methven NZ
- Thank you to:Footfalls & HeartbeatsWellington Artificial Limb CentreVictoria UniversityLecturer: Bettina NeuModel: Sarah Cowdell
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