A pair of Ph.D. candidates from Japan's Tsukuba University have created a special glove that allows the wearer to "feel" objects underwater without actually making contact with them.
The gloves, known as IrukaTact, use sonar to detect nearby objects and small motors on the tips of the index, middle and ring fingers to create haptic feedback. The haptic response - like the tiny vibrations Android smartphones give off as you type - intensify as the wearer gets closer to an object.
For those curious, IrukaTact is a mixture of the word "tactile" and iruka, the Japanese word for dolphin. One would assume that the inspiration for the glove and the name choice originates from dolphins' use of echolocation but I digress.
Its creators, Aisen Caro Chacin and Takeshi Ozu, believe the glove could one day be used in rescue operations such as floods. Being able to "see" what's under muddy or otherwise murky water without actually touching it could be an incredibly useful asset to rescue workers. The glove has a limited range of about two feet although its creators say that can be expanded if needed.
Rather than cash in on their creation, the Ph.D. candidates are offering up their design to the public via this 3D printing template. As it turns out, IrukaTact was constructed using off-the-shelf items like an Arduino Pro Mini hobby board and a sonar sensor from MaxBotix.