Exoskeleton Active hand orthesis nominated for Hermes Award 2012
The Exohand hand orthesis from automation specialist Festo is intended for use in physiotherapy but also has a place in the production environment. Thus, the so-called exoskeleton is nominated for this year’s Hermes Award, to be handed out at the Hannover Fair.
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The Exohand is custom-adjustable to the human hand. It can be used to move disabled fingers, to strengthen power in the fingers and to record the hand’s movements and transfer them in real time to robotic hands. In operation, the exoskeleton, a structure that supports the human hand from outside, emulates the hand’s physiological degrees of freedom.
Eight pneumatic actuators move the exoskeleton. Forces, angles and distances are recorded via sensors. Servo-pneumatic control and regulation algorithms enable individual finger joints to be moved with precision; the Exohand thereby supports a human hand’s diverse capabilities in gripping and touching. The pneumatic components make possible highly flexible and ergonomic control of finger joints. Thus, the compact, lightweight system can transfer major forces precisely. This flexibility is particularly important during human–machine interaction, as it helps minimise risk of injury.
Technological support for the hand
During assembly activities in production, the worker can wear the Exohand to add strength; there, the device serves as an assistance system. In physiotherapy, the hand orthesis can help stroke patients to overcome effects of paralysis. In the latter context, the Exohand and a brain–computer interface together create a closed feedback loop that supports the stroke patient with paralysis by renewing the absent connection between brain and hand.
The patient’s desire to open or close the hand is detected via an electroencephalography (EEG) signal, and the active hand orthesis then performs the movement. A training effect arises, which, over the course of time, leads to patients being able to move their hands again even without technological support.
For further information:
Festo AG & Co. KG