Lorenzo Masia

Soft Glove for Grasping Assistance


The elegant and unmatched abilities of the human hand in grasping, communicating and gesturing make its deterioration of functionality one of the most debilitating experiences that one can live. In the attempt to restore the ability to grasp in subjects affected by neuromuscular disorders (e.g. stroke, brachial plexus injury, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury and cerebral palsy) we are developing a soft glove, fully made of fabric, that is portable, low-profile and lightweight enough to be used on a daily basis in at-home scenarios.

A DC motor attached to a belt around the waist drives a set of artificial tendons routed to the glove through bowden sheaths (Figure 1). Retracting or releasing the tendons results in the application of a torque on the user's joints in a fashion that closely resembles the way natural muscles work. To reduce the complexity of our system only one electric motor drives the whole glove, closing the hand according to the grasping pattern that is most common in our activities of daily living. This underactuation strategy is based on the knowledge of how our own brain deals with the mechanical complexity of our hands: recent studies have shown that there seem to be a very small set of hand postures, known as synergies that are sufficient to perform nearly all of our everyday activities. We have chosen to embed the predominant synergy in the mechanical design of the tendon-driving unit. 

 Further information about the soft glove can be found on Michele's website

Our actuator drives three pair of tendons for flexion/extension of the thumb, index and middle fingers in an agonist/antagonist fashion (Figure 2). The postural synergy is implemented by choosing the ratios between the diameters of the three pulleys .The system also features a clutchable mechanism that allows to decouple the glove from the motor, allowing the wearer to move freely when needed (video showing its working principle here). A video summarising the current state of the glove can be viewed on our Youtube channel.



Figrue 1: The assistive glove is actuated by a tendon-driving mechanism located around the waist. Bowden sheaths allow to guide the tendons to the glove. 


Figure 2: A single EC motor drives the a set of tendons routed in the glove according to the first postural synergy of the hand, embedded in the geometry of the spool. A clutchable mechanism allows on-demand transparency, allowing the user to move freely when needed.

Related Work

1.  Xiloyannis M., Cappello L., Khanh D. B., Yen S.C., Masia L. "Modelling and Design of a Synergy-based Actuator for a Tendon-driven Soft Robotic Glove". International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics (BioRob), Singapore, 2016 (Best student paper award).

2.  Xiloyannis M., Cappello L., Khanh D. B., Antuvan C. W.., Masia L.Preliminary design and control of a soft exosuit for assisting elbow movements and hand grasping in activities of daily living". Journal of Rehabilitaiton and Assistive Technology Engineering (RATE), October 2016.

3.  Xiloyannis M., Cappello L., Khanh D. B., Antuvan C. W.., Masia L."Design and Preliminary Testing of a Soft Exosuit for Assisting Elbow Movements and Hand Grasping". International Conference on Neurorehabilitation (ICNR), Segovia, Spain, October 2016


New Journal on Rehabilitation Technology

Journal of Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies Engineering (click here)

Lorenzo MASIA (Associate Editor)



Journal Topics

Research Topic (click here)





International Conference on Rehabilitation Robotics

Singapore 11th-14th August 2015 Hosted by NTU

General Chair: Wei Tech ANG

Program Chair: Lorenzo MASIA



IEEE BIOROB 2016 (clickhere)



  • L. Masia, Nanyang Tech. University
  • S. Kukreja, National University of Singapore





Lorenzo MASIA Editor of Biorob 2014



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