Scientists create a glove with inflatable ‘banana fingers’ that can hold a can of Coca-Cola or a tennis ball

An amazing invention! Scientists create an assistive glove with inflatable ‘banana fingers’ that can grip a can of Coke or a tennis ball, using an autonomous knitting machine

  • The researchers used a self-contained knitting machine to create the glove.
  • The fingers can be inflated, allowing the glove to grip objects such as tennis balls.
  • The glove can minimize the amount of muscle activity required to complete tasks
  • It could be used for people with injuries, limited mobility, or finger trauma.

At first sight of this object, you would be forgiven for mistaking it for a bunch of ripe bananas.

But it’s actually a new assist glove, albeit one that features what its developers call ‘banana fingers’.

The glove has been created by researchers at MIT, who used an autonomous knitting machine to create it.

The banana fingers are inflatable and, when inflated, allow the glove to grip objects, such as a can of Coke or a tennis ball.

At first sight of this object, you would be forgiven for mistaking it for a bunch of ripe bananas.  But the item is actually a new assist glove, albeit one that features what its developers call 'banana fingers'.

At first sight of this object, you would be forgiven for mistaking it for a bunch of ripe bananas. But the item is actually a new assist glove, albeit one that features what its developers call ‘banana fingers’.

The glove has been created by researchers at MIT, who used an autonomous knitting machine to create it.

The glove has been created by researchers at MIT, who used an autonomous knitting machine to create it.

What could it be used for?

A human can use the glove to supplement finger muscle movement, minimizing the amount of muscle activity needed to complete tasks and movements.

“This could have great potential for people with injuries, limited mobility, or other trauma to their fingers,” MIT explained in a statement.

“A human can use the team glove to supplement finger muscle movement, minimizing the amount of muscle activity needed to complete tasks and movements,” MIT explained in a statement.

“This could have great potential for people with injuries, limited mobility, or other trauma to their fingers.”

Although soft pneumatic devices have been developed before, these have required manual design, which can be laborious.

Instead, the MIT researchers developed an autonomous knitting machine called PneuAct, which can knit soft pneumatic devices without assistance.

“PneuAct uses a machine knitting process, not unlike your grandmother’s plastic needle knitting, but this machine works autonomously,” the MIT statement explains.

“A human designer simply specifies the stitch and sensor design patterns in the software to program how the actuator will move, and then it can be simulated before printing.”

The textile piece is woven by PneuAct with conductive yarn, before being attached to a silicone rubber tube to complete the actuator.

“Using digital machine weaving, which is a very common manufacturing method in today’s textile industry, makes it possible to ‘print’ a design in one go, making it much more scalable,” explained Yiyue Luo, lead author of the study.

“Soft pneumatic actuators are inherently compliant and flexible, and combined with smart materials, they have become the backbone of many robots and assistive technologies, and rapid manufacturing with our design tool is expected to increase ease and ubiquity”.

The conductive thread allows sensing, which means the actuator can “sense” what it is touching.

While the current glove features tube-shaped actuators, the team now plans to test different shaped structures.

While the current glove features tube-shaped actuators, the team now plans to test different shaped structures.

For example, when the glove grabs onto an object, the pressure sensor can detect how much force is being applied and adjust accordingly.

While the current glove features tube-shaped actuators, the team now plans to test different shaped structures.

“Our software tool is fast and easy to use and accurately previews users’ designs, allowing them to virtually iterate quickly while only needing to manufacture once,” said Andrew Spielberg, one of the paper’s authors.

“But this process still requires some trial and error on the part of humans. Can a computer reason about how textiles should be physically programmed into actuators to enable rich, sensing-driven behavior? That is the next frontier.

The future of virtual reality? Meta presents a haptic GLOVE prototype

Meta (formerly Facebook) has unveiled a haptic glove prototype that allows users to feel objects in virtual reality (VR).

The glove, brought to you by Meta Reality Labs, is lined with a series of tiny air pockets called actuators along the palms and fingers that inflate to create a sensation of touch.

The commercialization of a haptic glove is part of Meta’s ambition to become a ‘metaverse’: a collective virtual shared space with avatars of real people.

Development work on the glove is still ongoing, but once it’s fitted and released, it will allow consumers to tell the difference between holding different materials in the metaverse, like a plastic pen or a rubber ball.

A spokesperson for Meta told MailOnline that the glove is just a research prototype for now and has no release date.

The glove, brought to you by Meta Reality Labs, is lined with a series of tiny air pockets called actuators along the palms and fingers that inflate to create a sensation of touch.

The glove, brought to you by Meta Reality Labs, is lined with a series of tiny air pockets called actuators along the palms and fingers that inflate to create a sensation of touch.

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