New device allows stroke victims to “talk through their hands”

A significant advance in the field of assistive technology is behind an experimental new device that offers communication promise to people affected by strokes by allowing them to “talk” through subtle hand movements. Developed by a team of Chinese scientists, it is wearable, featuring a thin, flexible adhesive design that adheres to the skin on the back of the wrist.

This technology can capture minimal gestures that would traditionally go unnoticed. Unlike other solutions such as sensory gloves, the device not only detects delicate movements, but also allows the hand to remain free to sense and interact with the environment.

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Made from polydimethylsiloxane silicone (PDMS) — a smooth, flexible, and biocompatible material — the device integrates fiber Bragg gratings (FBGs), which change the characteristics of the light transmitted through them as they bend with the movement of the wrist or hand.

“Feeling” subtle hand movements

Photo of the device being tested
Image: Kun Xiao, Beijing Normal University in China

Dr. Chuanxin Teng from Guilin University of Electronic Technology highlights the effectiveness of combining PDMS with FBGs. He explains that adjustments to the thickness of the silicone can amplify the sensitivity of the sensor, allowing the detection of extremely subtle movements, such as the slight bend of a finger or a twist of the wrist.

This extraordinary sensitivity made Morse code communication possible during tests, after a quick individual calibration. Researchers are now focused on improving the technology, seeking to miniaturize the device, increase its durability and improve wireless connection with mobile devices.

In addition to facilitating communication for stroke victims, the device has potential for applications in health monitoring, sports and entertainment (in video games, for example). The study was published in the journal Biomedical Optics Express.

Via New Atlas

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