3D printed IrukaTact gloves give you the ‘super power’ to detect hidden objects underwater


The Power Fist of the Space Marine endows the capacity to smash enemies into oblivion. But beyond fantasy, a duo of scientists (and Ph.D. candidates) have designed a real-life glove that does something extraordinary. Designed by Aisen Carolina Chacin and Takeshi Ozu (from the Empowerment Informatics program at Tsukuba University, Japan), in collaboration with Ars Electronica, the contraption in question entails haptic sonar gloves that allow the users to ‘feel’ and thus sense objects hidden underwater. Simply put, the 3D printed wearable device gives the user the enviable marine-based power of a dolphin; and hence the christened name IrukaTact (iruka in Japanese means dolphin).

So in terms of the working scope, the IrukaTact utilizes echolocation like dolphins, which basically encompasses the use of echoes to locate and identify the objects. And once any three-dimensional underwater matter is detected, the glove can provide haptic feedback to the user with pulsing jets of water on his/her fingers. In other words, as the distance between the detected object and the user gets reduced, the intensity of the water jet increases. And on a side note, the physical form of this glove is fairly ergonomic and unobtrusive, which allows the user to steer away or grasp objects that are in proximity.


Coming to the setup of the haptic sonar glove, the 3D printed IrukaTact is processed by an Arduino Pro Mini, while its  detection capacity is fueled by a MaxBotix MB7066 sonar sensor. Additionally three motors (powered by LiPo battery) are arrayed on top of the user’s index, middle, and ring fingers. These motors aid in pumping spurts of water – that is siphoned in for alerting the user (with the pressure being directed to the fingers). Furthermore, a silicone ring atop the index finger is connected to the sensor mounted on the wrist. This particular arrangement makes sure that the sensor is parallel with the hand, which in turn allows it to collect data from the pertinent direction the palm of the user’s hand is facing.

When translated to a practical scenario, this basic 3D printed setup can account for detection of underwater objects that are 2 ft away. The scientists have claimed that this distance before detection can be increased with better built-in components. And interestingly, the IrukaTact can also be used in conjunction with Oculus Rift, with incorporated gyroscopes and accelerometers adding to a virtual haptic feedback scope.

Now beyond just the gimmick of the technology involved in the scope, the IrukaTact can potentially come in handy in emergency scenarios. For example, it can help lifeguards to search for victims and allow researchers to detect sunken objects deep underwater. There is also a civilian angle to the ambit, especially given its guiding credentials that may be crucial when escaping through flooded zones. But in case you want speed over caution, do take a gander at the x2 Sport – touted as the world’s first wearable jet-pack for underwater navigation.

Via: PopSci

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