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Ambarish Ganesh
Ambarish Ganesh • Aug 5, 2011

Vibrating Glove Device Able To Assist People With Nerve Impairment

In a latest technological breakthrough, a modern glove device that gives vibrational feedback to the fingertips on physical interaction with surfaces has been formulated to develop wearers’ sensitivity of touch. As stated by the engineers who developed the prototype at the Georgia Institute of Technology, it could be used to help people whose jobs demand high-quality manual skill, or those with medical conditions who reduce their sense of touch.

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The tips of the glove comprise a layer of piezoelectric material that produces an electrical charge when a mechanical force is applied to it. This causes an actuator built of a stack of lead zirconate titanate layers to produce high-frequency vibrations. The actuator is connected to the side of the fingertip, so that the palm-side of the finger stays free and the person putting on the glove can continue controlling objects.


Research indicates that giving a small vibration to the side of the fingertip betters sensitivity of touch as well as motor performance. In the most recent of experiments, the researchers connected the device to 10 healthy adult volunteers who then carried out routine sensory and motor-skill tasks, which also included texture discrimination, two-point discrimination, single-point touch and grasp trials. The experimental results displayed that the volunteers did statistically better on all of the tasks when mechanical vibration was employed. For instance, in the two-point discrimination test, two sharp points were pressed with the fingertip and volunteers described if they could constantly differentiate two points touching their finger against just one. The results proved that when individuals experienced vibrations equal to 75 and 100 per cent of their limitations, they were able to sense two points that were closer together. Prof Jun Ueda of Georgia Tech told The Engineer, "The future of this research may lead to the development of a novel orthopaedic device that could 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."

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