This week’s torrential rains are causing widespread flooding across the Midwest and Southeast. And the danger isn’t over. Many rivers throughout Missouri aren’t expected to crest until tomorrow and Friday. With the flooding comes water rescues. It’s not just the fast moving water that concerns first responders. It’s what lies beneath.

Aisen Carolina Chacin and Takeshi Ozu of the Empowerment Informatics program at Tsukuba University in Japan have a potential solution. A haptic sonar glove. The wearer will be able to ‘feel’ objects that are just beyond their reach in underwater settings.

The pair took their inspiration from dolphins. Here’s how it works. An ultrasonic sensor on the wrist scans the ground in the flooded area. As your hand drifts over an object, pulsing jets of water provide haptic feedback to your fingers. The closer your hand is to an object, the stronger the feedback.

iruka glove

The range is limited to 2 feet underwater, but Chacin does say the range could be extended in the future.

Chacin and Ozu hope the glove becomes another tool for first responders during flood rescues. It’s easy to see ways it could help. Submerged cars, debris and power lines could easily be avoided if first responders had a way to sense them. IrukaTact’s (the glove) 2-foot range might not sound like much, but it could definitely help the number of busted knees and cuts first responders receive as they work in flood areas.

Interested in the glove? Chacin and Ozu share a 3D print of the glove so anyone can make their own. You’ll also need some parts:

+Arduino Pro mini 5v
+FTDI cable 5v
+MaxBotix Sonar
+Mini Motors [3x] +NPN Transistor
+LiPo Battery
+LiPo Charger
+Silicone Tubing
+Rainbow Wiring Cable
+Header Pins
+Motor Waterproofing Grease
+Silicone O-ring
+Crazy Glue
+Hot Glue
+Epoxy Glue

We can’t quite 3D print these yet.


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