Allow your hand to go limp. Now reach for your coffee or some such object, without flexing or extending your fingers. It’s impossible, right?
I just said that…
In an otherwise functional body, even one that lives in a wheelchair, the loss of grip is a frustrating shortcoming. It creates a world where the afflicted cannot live independently.
For many this is their reality. They’re functional thinkers, able to get around well enough, but can’t open doors. They can’t go far without someone to help them.
The Exo-Glove Poly aims to adjust this unfair circumstance.
The device is not a traditional wearable by any stretch of the imagination. It’s not a traditional prosthetic limb. The Exo-Glove Poly is something between these two.
It’s a simple grip augmenting device, that gives independence back to those who cannot use their hands with 100% functionality. While it’s not going to make any fashion runway appearances anytime soon, the Exo-glove is not so difficult to maintain or use as other options.
The creators of this device, a South Korean company called BioRobotics Laboratories, created several iterations with all five fingers engaged.
The latest prototype is much simpler, actuating only fingers. The thumb stays in a fixed, but passive position. Think ’80 figurine kung-fu grip.
There is little about this design which appears revolutionary in the materials or tech departments. Most of the design is polymers, something humans have enjoyed for decades. The mechanics are simple actuators and wires.
The device attaches to one’s hand via buckles and magnets, two technologies we’ve enjoyed for hundreds of years.
To look at it, Exo-Glove Poly begs the question: what took so long? It seems we could have designed this thing forty years ago. Perhaps, but those simple design elements, the non-threatening user interface of this project, are what make this device so accessible.
Many of today’s fancier prosthetics look like something from a sci-fi movie. They could be intimidating to someone who’s already suffering confidence issues. Not only that, the simplicity of this device is that will keep the price reasonable.
Once the device is in place, users regain almost normal function of their hand.
The wires that facilitate improving grip run from the two fingers, up the arm, to the actuating motor. They follow almost the same path as your tendons follow through the wrist.
There is a button that the user can place on his lap or elsewhere, which when depressed, closes the grip. The current iteration of the device is for one hand. BioRobotics is working on a two hand version for more complicated activities, like opening a bottle.
The device is waterproof, so there are no limitations. Users can even wash their hands wearing the Exo-glove.
Functionality-wise, it isn’t an exact replication of normal, but it’s an improvement. It offers a level up of independence.
BioRobtics took many factors into consideration with this device, but the price, usability and simple design were the three that make this such an easy consideration for someone who needs it.
The application of this wearable extends beyond the disabled. For aging adults, there are situations where a little more grip could go a long way.
Tasks like gardening or washing dishes, things that might otherwise force someone into a caregiving situation, may buy them the easy independence we all desire.
One could strap this on for a period of time, then take it off when not needed. It opens up Exo-glove to other users.
With wearables like this, it’s official; we’re hacking the human body.
Wearable tech like VR and animal trackers are novel, but this kind of wearable technology gets at the core of what Body Hacks is about.
We’re cheering for BioRobotics Laboratories.
To see more details, check out this video: