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October 26, 2016

Smart sock adds sensations to prosthetics

Researchers of the University of Applied Sciences in Linz, Austria introduced the proCover: a smart sock to wear over prosthetics. The sock uses sensors to help users experience sensations with their prosthetics.

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The proCover is a smart sock, which fits perfectly over a prosthetic. The sock is made up of several layers of fabric, sandwiching a layer with smart sensors. These sensors respond to pressure and are connected to a ring of vibrating motors. The user can decide for him or herself where they would like to wear it. With this construction, the user experiences feedback from the prosthetic. The proCover was presented at the UIST (User Interface Software and Technology) symposium. It was deemed one of the best papers presented.

Smart prosthetics

The world of prosthetics is changing rapidly. 3D-printing, new materials and integrated sensors propel prosthetics into the future. However, as stated by these researchers, while these innovations should be praised, they’re simply not attainable for everyone. Some innovations are too expensive for most, whilst others might not be available everywhere. The Austrian researchers have created an alternative, obtainable for every prosthetic wearer.

Co-creation

During the research and development fase, the researchers collaborated with eight prosthetic wearers. These eight gave their feedback and helped map the sensing regions in ones feet. These sensing regions formed the starting point in creating the sock and vibrating ring. These tests are just the beginning: the researchers plan on perfecting the sock and, at some point, implementing the technology in gloves.

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