New E-glove For Prosthetic Hand Users Offers ‘Humanlike’ Features

  • The sensor-instrumented glove can sense pressure, temperature and hydration
  • The research team is seeking partners to collaborate in clinical trials and further optimize the design.

Purdue University researchers have developed an electronic glove, or e-glove, that can be worn over a prosthetic hand to provide humanlike softness, warmth, appearance and sensory perception, such as the ability to sense pressure, temperature and hydration.

While a conventional prosthetic hand helps restore mobility, the new e-glove advances the technology by offering realistic human hand-like features in daily activities and life roles.

The e-glove uses thin, flexible electronic sensors and miniaturized silicon-based circuit chips on the commercially available nitrile glove. The e-glove is connected to a specially designed wristwatch, allowing for real-time display of sensory data and remote transmission to the user for post-data processing.

The brain behind this innovation

For the development of the e-glove technology, Chi Hwan Lee, an assistant professor in Purdue’s College of Engineering, collaborated with other researchers at Purdue, the University of Georgia and the University of Texas.

“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,” Lee said.

“The e-glove is configured with a stretchable form of multi-modal 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,” he explained.

A gift for prosthetic hand users

Lee and his team hope that the appearance and capabilities of the e-glove will improve the well-being of prosthetic hand users by allowing them to feel more comfortable in social contexts. The glove is available in different skin tone colours, has life-like fingerprints and artificial fingernails.

The fabrication process of the e-glove is cost-effective and manufacturable in high volume, making it an affordable option for users.

The team is seeking partners to collaborate in clinical trials or experts in the prosthetics field to validate the use of the e-glove and to continue optimizing the design of the glove.