‘Wired’ Glove Improves Touch Sense
August 4, 2011 by UPI - United Press International, Inc.
ATLANTA, Aug. 4 (UPI) — Researchers at Georgia Tech say a newly developed glove with a special vibrating fingertip can improve the wearer’s sense of touch.
Applying a small vibration to the side of the fingertip during the glove’s use improves tactile sensitivity and motor performance, Georgia Tech scientists Jun Ueda and Minoru Shinohara said.
Previous research has demonstrated that adding an appropriate amount of “white noise” — a concept called stochastic resonance — can improve sight, hearing, balance control and touch, but had never been incorporated into a wearable device.
“This device may one day be used to assist individuals whose jobs require high-precision manual dexterity or those with medical conditions that reduce their sense of touch,” said Jun Ueda, a professor of mechanical engineering.
In the research, volunteers wore the glove while performing common sensory and motor skill tasks including texture discrimination, two-point discrimination, single-point touch and grasp tests.
The volunteers performed statistically better on all of the tasks when mechanical vibration was applied, the researchers said.
“The future of this research may lead to the development of a novel orthopedic device that can help people with peripheral nerve damage resume their daily activities or improve the abilities of individuals with jobs that require skills in manipulation or texture discrimination,” Ueda said.