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MIT engineers create glove that mitigates hand tremors from Parkinsonís

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by , 01-20-2016 at 03:42 AM (1503 Views)
The GyroGlove is a cordless thin-and-light wearable hand stabilizer. Itís powered by a battery, with a tiny integrated controller that drives a precession hinge and turntable, and a responsive gyroscope . The gyroscope isnít a detector ó itís an effector. And it has to move ďsilently and reliably at thousands of RPM.Ē With a motion disorder like Parkinsonís, the impedance of a personís normal movements is a major detractor from quality of life. Thatís why the device has to be so light, and why the gyroscope has to rotate so fast: It must be responsive in real time to the wearerís moving hands, without encumbering their movements and making the solution more onerous than the problem.

The way it works isnít rooted in technological bells and whistles, but instead in straight-up rotational kinematics: a new application of a well-established principle. ďMechanical gyroscopes are like spinning tops: they always try to stay upright by conserving angular momentum,Ē Ong explains. ďMy idea was to use gyroscopes to instantaneously and proportionally resist a personís hand movement, thereby dampening any tremors in the wearerís hand.Ē Testers report that using the device is like plunging a hand into thick syrup: motion is free, and slower. Benchtop research showed that the GyroGlove was capable of reducing hand tremors by 90%.

Perhaps inspired by the low-power requirements of GyroGlove uses a gyroscope not unlike the control moment gyroscope used on the International Space Station, the one that allows it to pivot in space without using fuel. Itís simple, easy to manufacture, and it can be made very small. This low-overhead application is why the GyroGloveís power pack can be so thin and light: it doesnít require a big battery to do what it does.

While there are still some bugs to be worked out concerning weight and noise, Ongís team is now in the process of getting the device manufactured; they expect the device will cost about $700 US when itís released, hopefully by the end of this year.




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