April 18, 2024
Wearable Sticker

Innovative Wearable Sticker Transforms Hand Movements into Communication

A new wearable sticker has been designed by researchers that can convert hand or finger movements into communication effortlessly. This cutting-edge sensor holds the potential to revolutionize rehabilitation applications and aid individuals with disabilities in communicating more effectively. The sensor is a combination of a soft and flexible material known as polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) and an optical component called a fiber Bragg grating (FBG). It is engineered to be comfortable for extended wear and possesses high accuracy in detecting movements.

Published in the journal Biomedical Optics Express, this technology has numerous applications. For stroke survivors, the sensors can monitor wrist, finger, or facial movements to track their rehabilitation progress. People with severe mobility or speech impairments can benefit from these sensors as they can translate gestures or facial expressions into words or commands, facilitating communication and interaction with others and technology.

The interdisciplinary team of researchers in optical, biomedical, software, and electrical engineering from Beijing Normal University, Sun Yat-sen University, and Guilin University of Electronic Technology in China revealed that the sensors exhibited exceptional sensitivity and accuracy in gesture recognition and communication assistance tests.

Apart from movement detection, these adaptive sensors can be customized for monitoring health indicators like respiratory or heart rate by detecting subtle body movements, stated Rui Min from Beijing Normal University. Athletes or fitness enthusiasts can utilize these sensors to monitor and enhance their form or technique in real-time. Additionally, they can be integrated into gaming systems for a more immersive and interactive experience.

The project aims to create innovative assistive technologies inspired by the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities and those recovering from conditions like strokes. Traditional methods often lack precision and comfort, failing to cater to individual needs. Zhuo Wang from Beijing Normal University emphasized the goal of developing a wearable solution that accurately detects gestures and is comfortable for everyday use, providing a personalized approach to rehabilitation and assistance.

The sensors are made from PDMS, a highly flexible and skin-friendly silicone elastomer, ensuring long-term wear without discomfort. By embedding the PDMS with FBGs, the sensors gain movement-sensing capabilities. These FBGs, etched into a short segment of optical fiber, enable the detection of specific movements by analyzing changes in light behavior as the light travels through the fiber optic during movement.

Chuanxin Teng from Guilin University of Electronic Technology highlighted the unique sensitivity-enhancing effect of PDMS, which allows the sensors to detect even the slightest finger bend or wrist twist. These sensors can be applied to various body parts for a wide range of applications. A precise calibration method has been developed to tailor the sensors to individual users, making them adaptable for different functions.

The research team conducted tests focusing on gesture recognition and communication assistance by attaching the sensors to various body parts to detect movements. They successfully translated gestures into commands or messages, showcasing the sensors’ potential as assistive technology for individuals with speech or mobility impairments.

Moving forward, the researchers are working on refining the technology for practical use and conducting further studies through clinical trials. Enhancements include making the sensor system smaller, enhancing wireless communication capabilities with smartphones or medical devices, and ensuring durability to withstand daily wear and tear.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research.
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it.