Moving toward Soft Robotics: A Decade Review of the Design of Hand Exoskeletons

Biomimetics (Basel). 2018 Jul 18;3(3):17. doi: 10.3390/biomimetics3030017.


Soft robotics is a branch of robotics that deals with mechatronics and electromechanical systems primarily made of soft materials. This paper presents a summary of a chronicle study of various soft robotic hand exoskeletons, with different electroencephalography (EEG)- and electromyography (EMG)-based instrumentations and controls, for rehabilitation and assistance in activities of daily living. A total of 45 soft robotic hand exoskeletons are reviewed. The study follows two methodological frameworks: a systematic review and a chronological review of the exoskeletons. The first approach summarizes the designs of different soft robotic hand exoskeletons based on their mechanical, electrical and functional attributes, including the degree of freedom, number of fingers, force transmission, actuation mode and control strategy. The second approach discusses the technological trend of soft robotic hand exoskeletons in the past decade. The timeline analysis demonstrates the transformation of the exoskeletons from rigid ferrous materials to soft elastomeric materials. It uncovers recent research, development and integration of their mechanical and electrical components. It also approximates the future of the soft robotic hand exoskeletons and some of their crucial design attributes.

Keywords: activities of daily living; hand exoskeletons; rehabilitation; soft robotics; systematic and chronological review.

Publication types

  • Review