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Wearing a glove to learn skill sets
July 7, 2014
by Mark Ollig

Last week, I watched video about the Georgia Institute of Technology glove which is able to teach skill sets to people.
Individuals obtained a needed dexterity skill, via sensory vibrations, while wearing a special computer-controlled glove.
The method used was based on a combination of passive haptic learning; which is a technique of teaching one to learn via muscle-vibration memory, along with sounds, and visual stimuli.
Think of how you are able to type without looking down at the keyboard. This is because of all the time you spent having the muscle in your fingers learn where the correct keys you want to type are located on the keyboard.
Yours truly learned to type in Mr. Harold Knoll’s typing class back in the day when we used manual and electric typewriters.
I admit, I am no longer as agile and fast as I once was, but my typing fingers can still dance fairly quickly over the QWERTY keyboard.
What the researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology created was a user “tactile interface.” Namely, a glove with special tactors utilizing a tiny vibration motor on each finger.
The glove in the video is shown on a user’s left hand, with the vibrating motors sewn inside the glove above each knuckle. The glove is connected to a small circuit board via a ribbon cable. A connector on the circuit board is plugged into a laptop USB port.
When learning to type the Braille system, a computing program controls which of the fingers is to receive a vibration, or stimuli. The tiny motors vibrate, causing stimulation of the finger corresponding with the specific pattern of a pre-determined phrase in Braille. There were also audio prompts for notifying the individual of the Braille letters being used.
“Remarkably, we found that people could transfer knowledge learned from typing Braille, to reading Braille,” said Ph. D. student Caitlyn E. Seim, of the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Back in 2012, students and professors at the Georgia Institute of Technology developed a vibrating, re-enforcing learning technology for using a computer-connected glove to teach a person how to play a piano.
It was a fingerless glove, called the mobile music touch (MMT), and when worn, teaches the fingers of the wearer how to play a piano melody. This MMT glove employs vibrations inside the glove allowing it to tap each finger in the proper sequence needed to play the notes of a particular song.
In a video I watched, I saw a person who had no prior experience in playing a piano have his hand become conditioned with the proper muscle memory for playing a simple song. After 30 minutes, the person took the glove off, and was able to play the song on the piano.
The process involves having the participant hear the actual song they will be learning played all the way through on a piano. The correct piano key lights up as each note is heard. While the learner is wearing the glove, they feel the individual notes vibrate on their fingers, while seeing the keys on the piano light up as the song plays.
What’s occurring is a vibration inside the glove is tapping the correct finger to be used to play the exact note needed as the song progresses. The song is learned in parts; not all at one time. As one part of the song is audibly played, the user feels the vibration in their fingers; they also see the notes played on the piano by observing the lights of each key.
The person then attempts to recreate what they learned by pressing the piano keys they felt were being played as the muscles in their fingers learned the song.
One researcher said what surprised them most, based from their study, was the difference in sensation people got back after using the glove, compared to before using it. Some folks reported being able to pick up very small objects they were previously unable to pick up before using the glove.
The muscle conditioning benefits from the MMT glove can also be used in other skill sets, such as improving typing skills, as one story explained.
A quadriplegic partook in an eight-week study using the glove for about two hours a day. This person was able to improve dexterity in their typing skills from using one finger to type, to using two fingers on one hand.
On this video, the study participant smiled and quipped, saying, “This allowed me to regain some dexterity; but also learn how to play the piano.”
“Passive Haptic Learning of Typing Skills Facilitated by Wearable Computers” is a detailed, six-page document recently written by Seim and two others at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The document can be read at http://tinyurl.com/bytes-glove.
Their research is improving people’s ability to acquire skill sets using passive haptic learning, by wearing a tactile-responsive, computer-interfaced glove.


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