An engineer whose aunt has multiple sclerosis has used his skills to design a robotic glove which will help her complete simple tasks around the house.
The BBC reported that Ross O’Hanlon, who lives in Edinburgh, came up with the idea after seeing the difficulties which his aunt faces when trying to drink a cup of water or change the TV channel.
The glove uses artificial intelligence to boost muscle grip, with a process called electromyography (EMT) detecting the wearer’s intention to grip by measuring the electrical activity which is created in response to a nerve’s stimulation of the muscle.
The BBC said the glove then uses an algorithm to convert the intention into force, helping the wearer to hold an item or apply the pressure needed to complete an activity.
The glove is the first product from BioLiberty, a Scottish start-up co-founded by Mr O’Hanlon and three other engineering graduates.
Mr O’Hanlon said he hopes it will help millions of people, with an estimated 2.5 million people in the UK experiencing hand weakness through illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease and carpal tunnel syndrome – as well those who have lost muscle mass due to age.
He told the BBC: “Being an engineer, I decided to use technology to tackle these challenges head on with the aim of helping people like my aunt to retain their autonomy.
“As well as those affected by illness, the population continues to age and this places increasing pressure on care services. We wanted to support independent living and healthy ageing by enabling individuals to live more comfortably in their own homes for longer.”
The team have created a working prototype and have now secured support from Edinburgh Business School’s Incubator, based at Heriot-Watt University.
Mr O’Hanlon said: “We’re confident that support of this type will help accelerate the glove into homes more quickly.”