Researchers at Purdue University in the US have created an electronic glove (e-glove) to enhance the performance of the conventional prosthetic hand by enabling sensory perception.

The e-glove is fitted with electronic sensors for pressure, temperature and hydration and is designed to fit over the prosthetic hand. It uses electronic chips to transmit the sensory information to a wristwatch.

The standard prosthetic hand is intended to restore mobility in people with amputations. The new technology could boost performance by offering human hand-like appearance and features.

Purdue University College of Engineering assistant professor Chi Hwan Lee 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.”

Compared to new technologies that come with mind, voice and muscle control in prosthetics, the e-glove is cost-effective with a high production volume.

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Researchers also expect that e-glove could help users feel more comfortable in social settings.

Lee added:  “The prospective end-user could be any prosthetic hand users who have felt uncomfortable wearing current prosthetic hands, especially in many social contexts.”

The researchers partnered with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization to patent the e-glove technology.

Currently, they are looking for partners to conduct clinical trials or prosthetics experts to demonstrate the e-glove’s use and continue refining its design.

Development of the technology is in alliance with the University of Georgia and the University of Texas. It has appeared in the NPG Asia Materials journal.