Biologically Inspired Sensors Turned Into Silicon

For the last three and a half Billion years, evolution has built sensors. The nerves on your fingertips are just as good as any electronic touch sensor, a retina is able to detect a single photon, and the human ear is more finely tuned than the best microphones.

At the 2016 Hackaday SuperConference, Dr. Christal Gordon, educator and engineer, talked about the hardware behind our wetware. While AI researchers are still wondering if they have to define consciousness, there’s still a lot that medicine, psychology, and neuroscience can teach us about building better hardware with simple tools, just like nature has been doing for Billions of years.

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Vibrating gloves help bring back finger sensation after injury

This glove is something of a medical breakthrough. It’s used in conjunction with a musical keyboard to teach the wearer how to play simple songs. The thing is, instrumental proficiency isn’t the end goal. This is aimed at returning sensation to patients who have had a spinal cord injury. Many of the test subjects — all of which had the injuries more than a year before participating — experienced increased sensation in their hands and that is quite rare under these circumstances.

There’s not a ton of information available on the hardware itself, but this image lets us make a  pretty good guess. The glove is a typical fingerless cycling glove. There are two conductors worth of ribbon cable going to each digit. On the ring finger you can make out the bulging hardware which appears to be a vibrating cellphone motor. The white enclosure houses the microcontroller which receives wireless commands from a PC. When it is time for a finger to move, the appropriate motor vibrates. This is best explained in the clip after the break.

Apparently the combination of sensory feedback and the need to react to it provides the therapeutic impetus which achieves the promising results seen in the study.

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How to make your project an Internet sensation

internet_sensations

We’d like to spend some time talking about documenting your project and sharing it with the world. For many, the goal is to become an Internet sensation, hopefully for the right reasons. Taking a bit more time to make certain you do a great job of sharing your information will pay off. Here at hackaday.comwe focus on technological wonders but these guidelines should work well at improving the desirability of anything you might want to share on the interweb. Continue reading “How to make your project an Internet sensation”