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A Pair of Vibrating Gloves Improve Your Sense of Touch In the Cold

These vibrating gloves don't, ahem, do what you think, but they do help your fingers function better in the cold.


These vibrating gloves sound pretty exciting. And no, not in the way you're thinking. Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a glove that restores the sensory feedback we lose when our fingers are covered, and also improves hand coordination.

The connection between vibration and increased sensory sensitivity has been common knowledge among scientists for a while, but the revelation about increased finger coordination is new. The nerves in our fingertips are triggered once the sensations of outside stimuli are powerful enough. Small vibrations can help us feel smaller stimuli that wouldn't otherwise be enough to trigger fingertip nerves. These tiny vibrations improved touch and performance 15 to 20 percent on test subjects, which isn't jaw-dropping, but still significant.


At this point, the gloves will probably targeted to professionals. Georgia Institute of Technology professor Jun Ueda suggests they could aid anyone from astronauts and neurosurgeons to soldiers in combat and manual laborers who work in the cold, like fisherman and oil rig workers. He thinks they may even help kids with their handwriting, "by helping them manipulate pencils or pens accurately so that they can make nice graphics or letters."

The gloves aren't likely to hit department store shelves soon, but think of the possibilities down the line for us normal people living in cold climates. Everyone knows that feeling of being rendered useless as soon as we don winter accessories. Simple tasks like unlocking a door or buttoning a shirt can reduce us to fumbling messes, and forget about calling or texting anyone. How refreshing would it be to be able to function like a normal human? Not to mention the potential for state-of-the-art snowball fights.

photo courtesy of Gary Meek and Georgia Institute of Technology


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