Powered gloves come of age
These are mechanized gloves – exoskeletons -- that help workers gain a stronger grasp on tools, or else operate in reverse to help workers who have trouble opening some fingers on their hands to grasp tools.
The EksoVest is used on Ford assembly lines. The upper-body exoskeletal tool is designed by a partnership between Ford and California-based Ekso Bionics. The wearable technology is a tool-handling exoskeleton. The EksoVest is an upper body exoskeleton that elevates and supports a worker's arms to assist them with tasks ranging from chest height to overhead. It’s lightweight and low profile, making it comfortable to wear while enabling freedom of motion. Each arm can provide between 5 to 15 lb. of support per arm.
One example: The Robotic SEM™(Soft Extra Muscle) technology is an intuitive grip strengthening aid. The glove is based on patented technology developed over half a decade of research.
The SEM Glove is made out of three parts: a lightweight glove with sensors, a pouch with a controller and batteries and a connection system. The connection system has an easy to use snap on/off feature making it effortless to remove or replace the glove. The system weight is 700 g (1.5 lb).
The supplied assistive power can be adjusted depending on the needs of the user. Embedded sensors at the finger tips of the glove ensure that the proper force is applied. The design is meant to be lightweight and minimalistic. It should provide assistance with minimal interference.
Other specifically-designed work gloves incorporate exoskeleton technology to protect hands from smashing impacts and pinch points while allowing for hand flexibility. Some call exoskeleton technology used for hand protection the glove of the future.