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Wearable device that vibrates fingertip could improve one's sense of touch
Date:8/4/2011

A little vibration can be a good thing for people who need a sensitive touch.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a glove with a special fingertip designed to improve the wearer's sense of touch. Applying a small vibration to the side of the fingertip improves tactile sensitivity and motor performance, according to their research results.

Previous research has shown that adding an appropriate amount of white noise -- a concept called stochastic resonance -- can improve sight, hearing, balance control and touch, but the white noise had not been incorporated into a wearable device. The Georgia Tech prototype is believed to be the first wearable stochastic resonance device, attaching to the fingertip to improve the sense of touch.

"This device may one day be used to assist individuals whose jobs require high-precision manual dexterity or those with medical conditions that reduce their sense of touch," said Jun Ueda, an assistant professor in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Tech.

Ueda worked with Minoru Shinohara, an associate professor in the School of Applied Physiology at Georgia Tech, and visiting scholar Yuichi Kurita, to design the device and test its capabilities on a small group of healthy individuals.

Details of the device and preliminary test results were presented in May at the 2011 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Shanghai.

The device uses an actuator made of a stack of lead zirconate titanate layers to generate high-frequency vibration. The ceramic layers are piezoelectric, which means they generate an electrical charge when a mechanical force is applied to them. The actuator is attached to the side of the fingertip so that the palm-side of the finger remains free and the individual wearing the glove can continue to manipulate objects.

For this study, the researchers attached the device to 1
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Contact: Abby Robinson
abby@innovate.gatech.edu
404-385-3364
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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