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A new 'e-glove' for scuba divers could revolutionize underwater communication


e-glove for scuba divers revolutionize underwater communication

Scuba divers use hand signals to communicate, but it can be hard to see underwater. Researchers have created a waterproof "e-glove" that sends hand motions to a computer for easier communication.

This was published in ACS Nano. One day, improved communication between divers and surface boat personnel may be possible because of modern technologies.

The development of e-gloves, or gloves with electronic sensors that convert hand movements into information, is already underway. Some designs help users interact with virtual reality content and aid stroke survivors in recovering their fine motor skills.

It's hard to keep the glove flexible and comfortable while also making the electronic sensors waterproof for ocean or pool use. Fuxing Chen, Lijun Qu, Mingwei Tian, and their colleagues wanted to create an e-glove that could recognize hand movements underwater.

Using flexible microscopic pillars that were modeled after a starfish's tube-like feet, the researchers first created waterproof sensors. They used laser pens to make several micropillars on a thin film of polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS), a water-resistant plastic often used in contact lenses.

The researchers developed a waterproof sensor by placing two films with pillars facing inward on top of the conductive silver layer applied to the PDMS array. The sensor is stretchable and is about the size of a USB-C port. It can detect pressures from as low as a dollar bill to as high as water gushing from a garden hose.

To protect the knuckles and first finger joints of their e-glove prototype, the researchers sewed ten waterproof sensors inside self-adhesive bandages. An individual wearing the e-glove executed 16 gestures, such as "OK" and "Exit."

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