Did you ever think you could convert your fingers into bananas? Can you imagine how it would feel? In an exciting discovery published by MIT’s Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, researchers have developed banana-like gloves that you can wear on your hands. These gloves inflate our fingers by transmuting compressed air into mechanical motion. These are silicon tubes that portray an image of a banana because they are equipped with yellow knitted tubes from the top. It looks funny, but it has a lot of practical applications in everyday life. Most importantly, it can be used for people who have some sort of disability in their hands or for those whose fingers don’t have the ability to hold things tightly. The video below demonstrates the entire process:
The most compelling feature of these gloves is that the sensors are integrated into a prototype, allowing you to transform the shape of different objects based on the flexibility of your hands. Yiyue Luo, the lead author of the study, wrote, “Soft pneumatic actuators are intrinsically compliant and flexible, and when combined with intelligent materials, they’ve become a necessary force in many robots and assistive technologies—and rapid fabrication, with our design tool, can hopefully increase ease and ubiquity.”
Users can also customize the gloves based on their specifications through an “automated knitting process.” They simply needed to input their perceived design into the machine, and then the machine would do its job. Also, this robotic banana can actually feel the things that it grabs through its “conductive yarn process.” It can detect nearby objects, sense them, and inflate or deflate its knitted tubes accordingly. A researcher from Harvard University and a co-author of this paper, Andrew Spielberg, said, “Our software tool is fast, easy to use, and it accurately previews users’ designs, allowing them to quickly iterate virtually while only needing to fabricate once.” It requires some trial-and-error from humans. As sophisticated as the sensory fabric is, the AI behind it still needs to learn when and when not to inflate. That’s the next frontier, “he adds.
These yellow banana fingers are a type of exoskeleton, which is pretty fascinating. Anyone having muscle problems can wear these gloves to assist their hands in moving. The material used in the production of these gloves is also inexpensive, which makes it an economical yet valuable discovery for people across the world.