Grip strength, as well as walking speed and gait length, can be indicators of a person’s physical and mental health. A variety of conditions and treatments can be monitored from the grip strength, but such measurements are typically only performed infrequently at the doctor’s office. IBM Research has just developed a sensor that is attached to a fingernail on the index finger, that can measure the finger’s motion and from that figure out the grip strength.

The engineers were originally motivated to create a device that can help with monitoring of Parkinson’s patients, as changes in a medication regimen should normally be accounted by changes in symptoms. Since most Parkinson’s sufferers are older folks, skin-based sensors can be not as accurate and may lead to unwanted infections, but the fingernail is safer in this respect and provide a great deal of information about a person’s daily activities.

The device has a dynamometer inside that detects finger motion, and thanks to artificial intelligence and software the system can figure out quite a bit about what the person wearing the sensor is doing.

Here’s a video that IBM released about the new device:

Study in journal Scientific Reports: Wearable Nail Deformation Sensing for Behavioral and Biomechanical Monitoring and Human-Computer Interaction…



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