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Wearable sensor helps people with hand impairments use smart devices

Over 100 million Europeans experience a loss of motor skills, and over 4 % of the population suffer from an upper limb deficiency. The CRESCENT project has developed a wearable sensor that opens up the potential of smart devices for people who find manipulation difficult.

Digital Economy
Health

Whether temporary or permanent, any loss of motor skills results in reduced mobility and restricted opportunities. In recent years, a range of assistive technologies has been designed to improve the quality of life of people. Since many of these solutions are controlled using a mouse or touchscreen, they are not accessible to individuals with impaired use of their arms or hands. To make these technologies more accessible 6Degrees, an Israel-based technology company, has developed a wearable device that empowers people with upper limb deficiency to reclaim their digital lives. “Access to technology means equal opportunity to play an active role in society, find decent employment and engage socially,” says Aryeh Katz, a disabled veteran and co-founder of 6Degrees. “Our mission is to empower these people and give them independence to use all digital platforms.” Now, thanks to the support of the EU-funded CRESCENT project, Katz and his team are one step closer to bringing its MyMove assistive device to market.

Ready for the European market

MyMove is a light, wearable band designed for individuals who have lost their fine motor skills and have difficulty operating smart devices. Using wireless communication and a plug-and-play Bluetooth device, the innovative motion controller translates gross arm movement into specific commands. As a result, individuals can utilise tablets, laptops and smartphones without the need of a mouse, touchpad or touchscreen. “MyMove takes advantage of the ability to analyse and predict motion and apply it to the fields of rehabilitation and physical therapy – with real-time results,” comments Katz. During the project, 6Degrees conducted an in-depth feasibility study and full market analysis of the MyMove band. “This work greatly expanded our knowledge regarding technical objectives, potential business targets and regulatory requirements for launching our product onto the European market,” explains Katz.

Adapting – and succeeding

One unexpected challenge has been to advance the project during the COVID-19 pandemic, as much of the research team was under quarantine. “The population we work with is very sensitive to disease and many have underlying high-risk illnesses,” adds Katz. “In light of this, we had to adapt to this new reality, constantly weighing the additional challenges that people with disabilities face and continuing our activities remotely.” Despite this challenge, the project achieved a number of impressive results. Not only did it successfully develop the first prototype of the MyMove band, it also secured the Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Israel as a clinical testing site and regulatory consultant. The team also started initial discussions with one of the world’s largest electronic component manufacturers to explore manufacturing the MyMove device. According to Katz, the project played an important part in helping 6Degrees achieve its goal of providing access to technology for everyone. “We are proud to see the value that our product brings to people’s lives,” he concludes. “We hope our work will inspire other companies to utilise innovative technology for the betterment of society.”

Keywords

CRESCENT, smart devices, upper limb deficiency, assistive technologies, wearable device, people with disabilities, COVID-19

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