The effect that gloving has on the performance of perceptual and manipulation tasks was studied in this paper. To test perceptual ability, subjects were timed as they detected hard lumps in soft rubber models. Palpation of four different lumps, diameters 3.2 mm, 4.8 mm, 6.4 mm and 7.9 mm, was performed while barehanded and while wearing gloves of thickness 0.32 mm, 0.64 mm, 0.95 mm, 1.27 mm, 1.59 mm and 1.91 mm. Analysis of the data yielded significant differences in lump detection time with glove thickness. Mean times were always best with bare hands and poorest with 1.91 mm glove thickness. Detection time variation was greatest for the 3.2 mm lump. The maximum force applied during palpation increased linearly with glove thickness. To test manipulation ability, seven subjects lifted a 460g object using the thumb and index finger while barehanded and wearing gloves of thickness 0.16 mm, 0.32 mm, 0.95 mm and 1.91 mm. Three different surfaces with varying frictional conditions were used on the object: sandpaper, suede and rayon. Results indicated that the subjects’ ability to adapt to new surfaces decreased with increasing glove thickness, and greater levels of excess grip force were applied. Visual feedback did not play an important role in assisting lift for any glove thickness. The results of the perceptual and manipulation tasks suggest that the effects of gloving are both thickness dependent and highly task sensitive.

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