ACM SIGCHI
Enhanced Humans

This Sock Grants Sensation to Prosthetic Feet

It uses a pressure-sensitive grid attached to vibrating motors.

Dieter HolgerOctober 23rd 2016

Prosthetic technology is rapidly evolving with mind-controlled robotic limbs and personalized 3D prosthetics, but there isn’t a way to affordably upgrade artificial limbs with sensation — until now.

Enter the proCover: A smart fabric — in this case, a sock — that adds touch sensation thanks to embedded pressure sensors connected to vibrating motors, according to a new study from the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria.

“The design and construction of prostheses that can emulate a natural sense of touch is of growing research interest. However, many of the exciting innovations in this field will likely remain out of reach for most people…Our vision is to introduce a low-cost sensing wearable that can be applied retroactively to prosthetics to address this gap.”

The sock has a layer of conductive fabric called a piezoresistive layer, providing a pressure-sensitive grid across a prosthetic’s foot and ankle. In turn, the grid triggers non-invasive vibrating motors that are attached to where an amputee’s limb was severed.

The researchers presented their paper at the Association for Computing Machinery’s UIST conference, where it won an award, TechCrunch reported. The team is now working on creating a version for prosthetic hands.

You can watch the proCover in action in a demo video below.

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