Achieving accurate and reliable kinematic hand pose reconstructions represents a challenging task. The main reason for this is the complexity of hand biomechanics, where several degrees of freedom are distributed along a continuous deformable structure. Wearable sensing can represent a viable solution to tackle this issue, since it enables a more natural kinematic monitoring. However, the intrinsic accuracy (as well as the number of sensing elements) of wearable hand pose reconstruction (HPR) systems can be severely limited by ergonomics and cost considerations. In this paper, we combined the theoretical foundations of the optimal design of HPR devices based on hand synergy information, i.e.
, the inter-joint covariation patterns, with textile goniometers based on knitted piezoresistive fabrics (KPF) technology, to develop, for the first time, an optimally-designed under-sensed glove for measuring hand kinematics. We used only five sensors optimally placed on the hand and completed hand pose reconstruction (described according to a kinematic model with 19 degrees of freedom) leveraging upon synergistic information. The reconstructions we obtained from five different subjects were used to implement an unsupervised method for the recognition of eight functional grasps, showing a high degree of accuracy and robustness.
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