Bubble: Wearable Assistive Grasping Augmentation Based on Soft Inflatables

Xinlei Zhang, Ali Shtarbanov, Jiani Zeng, Valerie K. Chen, V. Michael Bove, Pattie Maes, and Jun Rekimoto. 2019. Bubble: Wearable Assistive Grasping Augmentation Based on Soft Inflatables. In Extended Abstracts of the 2019 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI EA '19). ACM, New York, NY, USA, Paper LBW2313, 6 pages. DOI:


We present Bubble, a pneumatically actuated wearable device that enables people with hand disabilities to use their own hands to grasp objects without fully bending their fingers. Bubble offers a novel approach to grasping, where slim, ultra-lightweight silicone actuators are attached to the fingers. When the user wishes to grasp an object, the silicone units inflate pneumatically to fill the available space around the object. The inflatable units are interchangeable, can be independently inflated, and can be positioned anywhere on the fingers in any orientation, thereby enabling a wide variety of grasping gestures including the palmar grasp, pinch, etc. In this paper, we describe the implementation of our current prototype, the fabrication process of the soft inflatable units, as well as our preliminary study to evaluate our system's grasping capability.

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