Design Innovation Paper

Two-Digit Robotic Exoskeleton Glove Mechanism: Design and Integration

[+] Author and Article Information
Eric Refour

Robotics and Mechatronics Laboratory,
Electrical & Computer Engineering Department,
Virginia Tech,
Blacksburg, VA 24060
e-mail: erefour@vt.edu

Bijo Sebastian

Robotics and Mechatronics Laboratory,
Mechanical Engineering Department,
Virginia Tech,
Blacksburg, VA 24060
e-mail: bijo7@vt.edu

Pinhas Ben-Tzvi

Robotics and Mechatronics Laboratory,
Mechanical Engineering Department,
Virginia Tech,
Blacksburg, VA 24060;
Robotics and Mechatronics Laboratory,
Electrical & Computer Engineering Department,
Virginia Tech,
Blacksburg, VA 24060
e-mail: bentzvi@vt.edu

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received September 21, 2017; final manuscript received December 12, 2017; published online January 29, 2018. Assoc. Editor: Venkat Krovi.

J. Mechanisms Robotics 10(2), 025002 (Jan 29, 2018) (9 pages) Paper No: JMR-17-1307; doi: 10.1115/1.4038775 History: Received September 21, 2017; Revised December 12, 2017

This paper presents the design and integration of a two-digit robotic exoskeleton glove mechanism. The proposed glove is designed to assist the user with grasping motions, such as the pincer grasp, while maintaining a natural coupling relationship among the finger and thumb joints, resembling that of a normal human hand. The design employs single degree-of-freedom (DOF) linkage mechanisms to achieve active flexion and extension of the index finger and thumb. This greatly reduces the overall weight and size of the system making it ideal for prolonged usage. The paper describes the design, mathematical modeling of the proposed system, detailed electromechanical design, and software architecture of the integrated prototype. The prototype is capable of recording information about the index finger and thumb movements, interaction forces exerted by the finger/thumb on the exoskeleton, and can provide feedback through vibration. In addition, the glove can serve as a standalone device for rehabilitation purposes, such as assisting in achieving tip or pulp pinch. The paper concludes with an experimental validation of the proposed design by comparing the motion produced using the exoskeleton glove on a wooden mannequin with that of a natural human hand.

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Fig. 2

Anatomy of the human hand

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Fig. 3

Design of the mechanism (a) index finger and (b) thumb (both are shown for the left hand)

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Fig. 4

Index mechanism showing two configurations and the design parameters for kinematic modeling. The relaxed configuration is shown in gray, while the black and white schematic shows a flexion configuration.

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Fig. 5

Simulation results (a) desired index finger trajectory starting at the origin of (0, 0) and (b) index finger joint angles

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Fig. 6

Simulation results (a) desired thumb trajectory starting at the origin of (0, 0) and (b) thumb joint angles

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Fig. 7

Design of the tip holder shown on finger mechanism (same for thumb mechanism)

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Fig. 8

System architecture of exoskeleton glove

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Fig. 9

Experimental setup for the prototype: 1—exoskeleton glove on mannequin, 2—embedded controller, 3—compressor, 4—air tank

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Fig. 10

Experimental analysis at various stages of the bending motion: (a) index finger and (b) thumb

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Fig. 11

Experimental results for (a) index finger joints and (b) thumb joints

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Fig. 12

Prototype on a human hand: 1—absolute position sensor, 2—FSR sensor, 3—vibration motor, and 4—pneumatic actuator

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Fig. 13

Proposed SEA design

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Fig. 14

3D printed prototype of SEA module

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Fig. 15

Proposed exo-glove design with electric actuation and SEA



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