The Robo-Glove's real ingenuity lies in its use of electronics to learn the wearer's intentions. Force-sensitive resistors in the fingertips work with a microprocessor, software, and a set of motor controllers to endow the system with closed-loop control. "When you come in contact with something and squeeze, the reaction is immediate," Linn said. "The microprocessor reads the sensors, understands the intent of the user, and tells the motors to actuate. The motors cinch everything up and give you the extra force you need."
The glove is an offshoot of Robonaut 2 (R2), a collaborative GM-NASA project that provided a dexterous working robot for the International Space Station. Unlike R2, GM sees the Robo-Glove as a product that can be commercialized.
Linn said the device could have applications in the robotics market, particularly in the growing area that includes humanoid robots and exoskeletons. Clothing companies could also incorporate the technology into work gloves. GM is still studying the prototype to learn which applications would make the most sense.
Early research by the automaker has shown that auto workers wearing a Robo-Glove can grip a tool longer and more comfortably. The company says the glove could reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries.
"We don't know yet what the best applications will be," Linn said. "Our approach is to try it out on a bunch of tasks and let the operators, who are the real experts, tell us whether it helps or not."
As a FORMER GM stockholder and long-time member of a "GM FAMILY" I feel I'm qualified to state that if the people at GM were focused on MAKING AUTOMOBILES may be I wouldn't have to use their stock certificates for wallpapering my bathroom. I the morons would concentrate on styling and car engineering they would't have time for gloves, etc.
Thanks, Chuck that makes sense. bdcst, I often have the same problem opening jars, and keep three different jar-opening tools in my kitchen utensil drawer. One of them usually works. But I agree, this glove would make a great alternative for several other tasks that involve gripping for long periods of time.
You're right on the money, bdcst. I think these are the kinds of apps that GM is thinking of. There must be a lot of potential applications in which this technology could be used to prevent Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Ann: I don't think GM wanted to put it into shoes. They just happend to drop the name of a shoe/clothing company and suggested that there was an application there. I don't know how that company could possibly use it, but it does make sense that a company that makes work clothing could incorporate it into gloves.
Yes, Sensor pro, it is good to see GM innovating in a non-auto field. Decades ago, that was more the norm, where companies would go far afield with their innovations with some very interesting results. 3M, Bell Labs, many others.
This device has the potential to become a mass production, mass appeal comodity item! No need to limit it to the assembly line or for relief from medical conditions. It would be handy for most everyone on a daily basis, especially those of us who are aging. And isn't that ultimately all of us?
I'm at the point where opening vacuum sealed jar lids becomes a brute force challenge, where soft tissue does not respond as well to stress or heal as rapidly from an insult.
Even for low force tasks such as gripping the tripod handle of a film/video camera for an hour or more of continuous filming the glove would help eliminate finger cramps! I assume, with some sort of locking cam or gear action, the glove would not have to consume a lot of battery power to hold its grip, only to change it.
This device would appear to be, in some ways, superior to the exoskeleton devices the Department of Defence is testing for soldiers needing to carry heavy supplies to the battlefield. It would certainly help them hold a weapon or a joy stick for prolonged periods of time.
Chuck, I get defense applications, but clothing? And shoes? Anyway, the medical/health apps look pretty compelling. As Nancy mentions, carpal tunnel/tendonitis/repetitive stress sufferers could also benefit, on top of people who have lost even more functioning.
This is a very exciting development – I know so many people who are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome and this looks like a great preventative measure and even a way for those who have a repetitive stress injury to be able to continue to work. I will be looking forward to what the operators have to say about it! I wonder how cost effective it will be to implement because I think the possibilities are so huge...very cool!
Ann: GM is very open to ideas for commercialization. While I was talking with them, they mentioned possible uses in defense applications and in clothing lines. They also mentioned a prominent shoe manufacturer in our discussions, but didn't indicate how that company might use it.
In a bid to boost the viability of lithium-based electric car batteries, a team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has developed a chemistry that could possibly double an EV’s driving range while cutting its battery cost in half.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.