Implementation of a finger force detection platform with a graphical user interface
Artificial tactile sensing is a challenging research topic in robotics, motor control, and rehabilitation engineering encompassing multi-disciplinary skills and different technologies. This paper presents the development of a wearable tactile thimble system using MEMS barometric sensors and flexible printed circuit board. Barometric sensors were carefully processed to make them able to transduce contact forces. Thumb, index, and medium fingers were equipped with an array of six sensing elements each, covering the central, lateral, and medial aspects of the fingertip. The sensor integration, signal read-out and processing, hardware architecture of the device, along with the calibration protocol, were described. The test results showed adequate sensitivity at very low forces with an almost linear transduction range up to about 4N (RMSE: 0.04N). Tests on object manipulation tasks highlighted the value of the proposed system demonstrating the ability of measuring both the force amplitude and contact points, demonstrating the suitability of barometric sensors for tactile applications.