Design and Integration of a Form-Fitting General Purpose Robotic Hand Exoskeleton

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Virginia Tech


This thesis explores the field of robotic hand exoskeletons and their applications. These systems have emerged in popularity over the years, due to their potentials to advance the medical field as assistive and rehabilitation devices, and the field of virtual reality as haptic gloves. Although much progress has been made, hand exoskeletons are faced with several design challenges that are hard to overcome without having some tradeoffs. These challenges include: (1) the size and weight of the system, which can affect both the comfort of wearing it and its portability, (2) the ability to impose natural joint angle relationships among the user's fingers and thumb during grasping motions, (3) safety in terms of limiting the range of motions produce by the system to that of the natural human hand and ensuring the mechanical design does not cause harm or injury to the user during usage, (4) designing a device that is user friendly to use, and (5) the ability to effectively perform grasping motions and provide sensory feedback for the system to be applicable in various application fields.

In order to address these common issues of today's state-of-the-art hand exoskeleton systems, this thesis proposes a mechanism design for a novel hand exoskeleton and presents the integration of several prototypes. The proposed hand exoskeleton is designed to assist the user with grasping motions while maintaining a natural coupling relationship among the finger and thumb joints to resemble that of a normal human hand. The mechanism offers the advantage of being small-size and lightweight, making it ideal for prolong usage. Several applications are discussed to highlight the proposed hand exoskeleton functionalities in processing sensory information, such as position and interactive forces.



robotics, hand exoskeleton, exoskeleton glove, mechatronics, computer engineering