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Here comes the glove that grabs things underwater

Developed by two PhD students of Tsukuba University in Japan, it aims at increasing tactile sensations without touching the object

MILAN - A glove inspired by echolocation systems, for a "first-hand" feel of unreachable objects buried underwater. This is the idea developed by two PhD students, Aisen Carolina Chacin and Takeshi Ozu, of the Empowerment Informatics Program, (Tsukuba University, Japan). IrukaTact is the name of the device, it is equipped with sensors for echolocation and it simulates contact with objects that are buried under water, which would otherwise be unreachable.

Useful in the event of flooding

According to the inventors, it could be particularly useful in situations of low visibility, for example in flooded roads or buildingsThe glove is inspired by echolocation systems used by dolphins and it is for this reason that its name is IrukaTact. Indeed, "iruka" means "dolphin" in Japanese. This innovative device provides a tactile feedback to who uses it, by allowing water to flow under the fingers. In particular, when the hand of who wears the glove gets near to an object under water, the liquid flux under the fingers becomes stronger and stronger: "Our aim - explains PhD student Carolina Chacin - is to increase tactile sensations. In other words, our aim is to understand how to transmit the roughness of an object or its temperature, for example, but without touching it".

How does it work?

The device is equipped with a sonar, three small engines and an Arduino board, programmed to send signals to the silicon sheaths of the three central fingers. The engines are used to generate the water flow that channels the tactile sensations. Little finger and thumb are "free", in order to improve movement agility and preserve the battery. The sensor currently allows the identification of objects up to 60 cm away, but Cachin is convinced that in the future it will be possible to increase the reach of the glove. 

by Alessandro Conte