Your Future Robotic Hand Will Be Able To Detect Everything From Abnormal Breast Lumps To Enlarged Lymph Nodes

The human hand is good and all, but it doesn’t hold a candle to a robotic glove covered with micro-ultrasound machines.

Bring together two engineers and a Harvard Medical School student, expose them for 10 weeks to lofty ideas about changing the world from people like X Prize Founder Peter Diamandis and futurist Ray Kurzweil, ask them to create a team project that could positively impact 1 billion people in 10 years, and what do you get? Med Sensation, a project spun out of Singularity University’s graduate studies program that aims to make your checkups at the doctor’s office more robotic.


The Med Sensation glove, now in its second iteration, is outfitted with sensors that can detect vibrations, sound, and temperature–and it features an accelerometer and a buzzer system for items that require immediate attention. “If you apply too much pressure on the examined tissue, then the buzzer goes on,” explains team member Elishai Ezra.

The third version will come with micro-ultrasounds on the glove fingertips. All the information derived from a glove-guided examination can be wirelessly transmitted to an outside device. “The idea is to quantify touch,” says Ezra.

The uses for the glove are virtually endless: home breast cancer screenings that can detect the exact size and location of a lump so that patients can more accurately gauge whether they need to see a doctor; glove-guided exams that can quickly detect everything from an enlarged liver to enlarged lymph nodes; easy assessment of abdominal pain and heart abnormalities (using the ultrasound sensors); and more.

The Med Sensation’s first goal is to bring the glove into medical education settings, teaching doctors to improve their examination skills. If that goes well, the team hopes to get the glove into physicians’ hands. And after that, the team wants to make a consumer-friendly version that “will allow people to do a physical exam themselves,” according Ezra. In Med Sensation’s future filled with robotic hands, patients will need to go to the doctor a whole lot less.

About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more.