Royal College of Art graduate Morten Grønning Nielsen has created a “power glove” called Happaratus that enables users to sculpt and shape hard materials such as wood or stone using their hands.
The prototype was on show at the Global Grad Show that took place during the inaugural Dubai Design Week, an exhibition that showcased 47 of the most innovative graduate projects across 10 top design schools in the world.
The project takes an experimental approach to increasing the power and creative capabilities of the human hand as a crafting tool.
“The idea came from a ‘what if’ question. What if I could augment the power of the human hand so that it had much more power to manipulate materials, so much so that it could reach through a concrete wall? What would we be able to do with that technology?” Nielson told DesignMENA.
“I then realised that we have plenty of great tools for creating straight cuts and drilling holes, but we don’t really have anything for exploring abstract forms, and a product like this would be great for architecture/design students, model makers, sculptors, artist and avocational makers.”
The haptic power-tool was developed in close collaboration with artisans and craft experts from various disciplines including sculptors, designers, model makers and tinkerers.
The tips of the glove’s thumb, index and middle fingers are each mounted with two abrasive pads that are powered by a hydraulic motor. The pads then oscillate in opposite directions to carve away the unwanted sections of the materials using the fingertips.
These interchangeable pads can be made in a variety of shapes and materials depending on the surface used.
“The development process was intense and very iterative,” Nielson told DesignMENA. I’ve tested at least 15 working concepts and more than a 100 iterations, trying to make them work reliably. Making a glove with moving sanding pads at your fingertips is actually not very difficult – getting it to work reliably, so you can use it for three hours without it breaking apart is the difficult part.
“At some point I figured out that a particular motion is key to stabilising the sanding action. This is when you have two parallel pads on each finger, reciprocating in opposite cycles. These two opposite motions complement one another very well, and force all the sanding action into the material, almost ripping it apart. I ended up filing a patent on this specific part of the tool.
“When I started getting results and reached out to artisans for testing, I realized that the idea of an augmented hand for craft, appeals to many artisans across disciplines and industries. The scope of this invention is now much broader than I first imagined and I see the invention as a disruptive tool that enables artisans to interact with materials in a new and unique way.
“There has been interest from other potential markets such as the cleaning industry, and I’ve had a couple of surgeons who were interested in whether this could become a tool for bone and dental surgery,” Nielson said.
In order to test the prototype, sculptor David Neat used it to create a series of wooden objects called ‘Grinlings’.
The objects demonstrate the opportunities in shape development and the soft form-language, which is characteristic of shapes generated with this augmentation of the human hand.
Another important project in the construction theme category during the Global Grad Show was “More Sky” that manipulates window modules to create more living space.