You may remember the Nintendo Power Glove of the 1980s – a device advertised to allow users to play video games with the motion of their fingers. But the glove never performed well. Was it a simple gimmick or technology far ahead of its time? Take a look at the “power gloves” of the future.
Wearables for the Factory Floor
To assist astronauts, NASA created a humanoid robot to perform space walks in risky areas. From that creation has come a number of robotic applications for Earth, one of which is the RoboGlove. The glove has sensors and actuators to detect objects and strengthen a user’s grip. It is thought the glove will help manufacturing workers perform tasks without muscle strain or fatigue.
ProGlove is a scanning glove for warehouse or factory workers, used to increase work efficiency and eliminate the physical strain from heavy hand-held scanners. The glove also prevents the issue of hand-held scanners being misplaced during workflow.
There are already gloves with specially padded fingertips that allow wearers to use their smart phones while keeping their hands warm. But the gloves don’t always work perfectly. Bluetooth Smart Gloves allow wearers to use their phones remotely. Through nodes on the gloves’ fingers, wearers can answer phone calls or access their music library without removing the phone from their pocket. The gloves keep hands warm and improve safety for cyclists and skiers to which the gloves are marketed.
A medical glove is under development to provide a consistent tool for measuring muscle stiffness in patients with cerebral palsy, stroke and multiple sclerosis. The glove uses pressure sensors to measure the force needed to move a patient’s limb. An accurate measurement in muscle stiffness helps doctors avoid the issue of under- or overprescribing medicine dosages.
Another medical glove already in use helps stroke patients regain motor function in their arms and hands. Sensors in the glove record the patient’s finger and wrist movements to track progress as they play virtual games. The games motivate patients to improve their health and having a track record aids their physical therapist in providing successful treatment plans.
The Gaming Glove
If you’re missing the days of the Nintendo Power Glove, new glove technology is in the works to interact with virtual worlds. More interested in a real-life game? A smart glove is being developed to enhance the golf experience by automatically keeping score, calculating the ball’s travel distance and comparing a user’s performance with friends.
The smart glove global market is expected to grow 9.3% from 2017 to 2023.