It helps restore mobility to people who’ve endured strokes or severe spinal injuries
While there are no shortage of considerations when developing technology to assist disabled people, the public and media’s attention often drifts to the “big” announcements. Can it help people walk? Can it “fix” a person’s ailment? Will it restore their quality of life to what it was before their disability?
While these are certainly worthwhile questions to ask and noble pursuits, progress can also come in steps that may seem smaller, but are no less important.
When the Seoul National University’s robotics department began work on the Exo-Glove Poly, they thought about the day-to-day struggles that stand between afflicted people and their independence. That can include simpler tasks like reaching, grabbing, and holding items that are essential to one’s daily routine.
So they worked on developing the Exo-Glove Poly, something they call a “soft, wearable robot for the hand,” because, well, that’s what it is. Almost as inconspicious as a wool glove, the cutting-edge device serves to restore functionality to a person’s hand after suffering a stroke, spinal damage, or possibly other neural issues.
Here’s a video explaining both the team’s approach and the resulting product in action:
Taking an extraordinarily holistic approach to the device’s development, the team, led by Kyu Jin Cho, a mechanical engineer, took into account all of the following into its design:
- Simple Design
- Mass Production
The Exo-Glove Poly covers three fingers (the thumb, index finger, and middle finger) with wires attaching the glove’s finger to a small motor, which controls them in ways that their disabled wearer cannot. The motor can be activated using neural impulses, essentially serving as an aid in a person accomplishing tasks like brushing their teeth or feeding themselves. To that end, it’s waterproof, meaning that its utility extends to bathing, a big hurdle to independence for many disabled people.
As you can see in the video above, a new approach to innovation has resulted in this little, unassuming device that could wind up helping its disabled users more than anything we’ve seen in quite some time.