The Georgia Institute of Technology scientists have designed a glove featuring a unique fingertip to enhance the Sense of Touch of the wearer.
During the study, the researchers observed that the application of a mild vibration to the fingertip’s side enhances motor performance and tactile sensitivity of the wearer. The researchers including Jun Ueda, Minoru Shinohara and Yuichi Kurita have developed the wearable stochastic resonance device to enhance the sense of touch.
The prototype device features an actuator to produce ultra-frequency vibration. The actuator is made-up of lead zirconate titanate layers, which are piezoelectric that produces an electrical charge on the application of a mechanical force. It is fixed to the fingertip’s side to help the wearer to continue his normal work.
During the study, the scientists tested the device on 10 volunteers who did common motor skill and sensory jobs such as grasp tests, single-point touch, two-point discrimination and texture discrimination. The research results proved that volunteers did all the jobs efficiently during the application of a mechanical vibration.
For every test, the scientist fixed the device to the non-dominant index finger of the volunteers and exposed the fingers to six different vibrations ranging between 0% and 150% of the vibration amplitude threshold value of the volunteers. The threshold value was the level of vibration needed for a matter to realize the vibrational status of the device.
All of the test results proved that the fingertip’s tactile sensitivity improved when certain magnitude of mechanical vibration was applied. However, the magnitude of vibration that enhanced the sensorimotor functions statistically differed by the test, Ueda said. The scientists are now involved in the optimization of the glove design and are studying the impact of fixing the devices to both sides of the fingernail or the fingertip. The research findings pave the way to the creation of a special orthopedic device to assist patients suffering from peripheral nerve damage, Ueda added.