The global smart gloves market size was valued at USD 2.18 billion in 2021. It is projected to reach USD 4.81 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 9.2% during the forecast period (2022–2030).
Smart gloves refer to a sensor-based interactive wearable technology that is used as a translator by those with speech and hearing impairment. Bend sensors, Hall Effect sensors, and accelerometers are embedded inside smart gloves to map hand and finger orientation. An automatic sign language recognition system has been designed for the technology using a machine-learning algorithm to translate the sign alphabet and common words into text and sound.
The technology is also integrated with algorithmic software tools used for high accuracy in gesture recognition. The smart glove's key purpose is to facilitate the easy sharing of basic ideas, minimize the communication gap, and enable easier collaboration for those with impaired speech and hearing. Ongoing and further research in smart gloves, which includes integrating technologies, such as gesture recognition, haptic technology, and motion capture, is expected to positively impact market growth in the coming years.
Nanotechnology, or the micro-encapsulation of nanoparticles, is the process of enveloping one substance within another substance on a microscopic scale, yielding capsules ranging from less than one nanometer to a hundred nanometers in size. Microencapsulation is used to achieve a pronounced effect on fabrics. Many manufacturers and players in the smart glove market are focusing on implementing these two technologies to give users a better experience. Furthermore, the rising number of start-ups implementing this technology and increasing adoption of microencapsulation and nanotechnology by the end-users drive the market growth.
Smart wearable systems and solutions introduce complex integration and interoperability challenges while determining efficacy. These concerns present a significant barrier to the widespread adoption and utilization of wearables, especially for early adopters of the technology. Additional barriers such as technology obsolescence, proprietary data processing algorithms and formats, and the ability to scale technologies for larger cohorts hamper the market growth. They lead to slow progress toward generating a rich evidence base for these technologies' effectiveness for rehabilitation.
Technological development and understanding of customer demand must go hand-in-hand to enable broader adoption of smart wearables. To advance the use of wearable systems, a systematic and integrated approach is needed to develop user-centric systems in order to maintain engagement within the user community in the long term. Extended reality serves as a window of communication between the user and the smart glove. Therefore, it is emerging as a key element for effective, intuitive, and seamless manipulation.
Extended reality can help create more realistic interactions between users and machines and satisfy needs beyond the simple controlling of objects. With a smart glove-based human-machine interface (HMI), hand motion could be projected into machines, robots, or devices in the VR and AR space. Moreover, subtle, emotional, and detailed interaction between human and human and human and the machine could be realized with the aid of gestures and hand motions.
Smart gloves' hardware components include flex sensors, accelerometers, microprocessors, Bluetooth shields, and PCs. A smart glove's hardware enables highly accurate hand and finger movements that can be captured in real-time. An accelerometer or tilt sensor is used to detect the hand's twisting, while the microprocessor receives the signal from the sensors and analyses and calculates the data from gestures. It gathers processes and sends data to the control system, where the microcontroller is programmed using the software.
The hardware components segment in the smart gloves market is expected to record significant growth during the forecast period, owing to its lightweight and low manufacturing cost. Smart gloves hardware structure comprises a silicone compound holding embedded stretch sensors, combining them with a soft fabric layer. The input device uses a constructed set of algorithms to process the sensor data from the gloved hand. It captures movements even when the hand is holding something and can work in all kinds of lighting conditions, with no cameras involved.
Wearable electronics for sensing human motions and gestures have drawn considerable attention in the last few years, mostly due to their broad spectrum of applications in biomedical diagnostics, personal healthcare, human-machine interfaces, and others. Gesture recognition technology is growing rapidly because of its vast potential to transform hand gestures into digitally processed controls for electronic devices. People with speech impairment find it difficult to communicate in a society where most people do not understand sign language. The gesture recognition technology in the smart glove converts sign language to speech output.
Flex sensors and Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) sensors recognize the gesture and track hand motion in three-dimensional spaces. The technology is feasible in converting sign language to voice output and finds widespread applications in the gaming, robotics, and medical fields. In a smart glove, haptic technology includes flex sensors that process physical values and allows users to communicate with the computing device. It allows a user to connect virtually to computing devices and experience virtual reality.
For establishing a smarter system using the fusion of sensing and feedback functions, the mechanical stimulator for haptic feedback is crucial to reflect the virtual world's interactive event. A well-designed feedback system can enrich the experience and assist the user in making adjustments. In a smart glove, multidimensional sensors and well-designed haptic feedback are essential to achieve precise control via immersed experience and comprehensive sensation.
North America's smart glove market is driven by the increasing demand for advanced circuitry, wireless connectivity, independent processing capability, and ease of work and monitoring in various industrial applications. The region held a significant share of the global market in 2016 and is expected to observe significant growth during the forecast period. Growing multifunctional features in smart gloves, such as scanning and converting sign language gestures into vocalized speech, bolster the regional market growth.
In 2019, scientists from NASA and the SETI Institute developed a smart glove that lets astronauts control robots and drones through one-handed gestures. The technology frees up astronaut's hands, allowing them to multitask while exploring distant planets. The smart glove is a prototype for a human-machine interface (HMI) that would allow astronauts to wirelessly operate an array of robotic assets via simple single-hands gestures.
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