Scientists have developed a soft, non-toxic wearable sensor that can be attached to the hand to monitor force of a grasp and the motion of the fingers.
Children born prematurely often develop neuromotor and cognitive developmental disabilities.
The best way to reduce the impacts of those disabilities is to catch them early through a series of cognitive and motor tests.
However, accurately measuring and recording the motor functions of small children is tricky.
As any parent will tell you, toddlers tend to dislike wearing bulky devices on their hands and have a predilection for ingesting things they shouldn’t.
The sensing solution is made from potassium iodide, which is a common dietary supplement, and glycerol, which is a common food additive.
After a short mixing period, the glycerol breaks the crystal structure of potassium iodide and forms potassium cations (K+) and iodide ions (I-), making the liquid conductive.
Since glycerol has a lower evaporation rate than water, and the potassium iodide is highly soluble, the liquid is both stables across a range of temperatures and humidity levels and highly conductive.
The design of the sensors also takes the need of children into account. Rather than a bulky glove, the silicon-rubber sensor sits on top of the finger and on the finger pad.
Researchers currently study motor function using motion capture. While the technology can tell a lot about movement, it cannot measure force, which is critical to diagnosing neuromotor and cognitive developmental disabilities.