Stretchable textile pressure sensors for better product design

fingertip_sensor.jpg Pressure Profile Systems, Inc. started in 1996 as a commercial spin-off from Harvard University to design, develop and manufacture high performance multi-element pressure and tactile sensing systems.

Their latest commercially available product is the FingerTPS(TM) (Finger Tactile Pressure Sensing). Flexible sensors are worn on the hand and transmit accurate, repeatable tactile force data to a computer via wireless Bluetooth connection.

FingerTPS is able to capture a complete representation of user interaction with tools, sports equipment, medical applications or during new product design processes allowing to optimize the product design for highest usage comfort or use the sensor data to evaluate and monitor the handling of products for training purpose.

The sensors are made from a soft, conductive Lycra® that conforms to the finger to allow dextrous operations such as typing or writing, and are fastened with small Velcro® straps. The wireless interface module can be recharged using a USB port and runs continuously for over 2 hours.

FingerTPS allows researchers and design engineers to understand how humans interact with machines, objects and general environment. Case studies and applications range from learning and training aid in medical education, optimization of ski boots by using the sensor during the inner shoe design for the most comfortable fit or for the design of motorcycle saddles to find the best shape for optimal riding comfort.

PPS Inc. has a wide range of different sensor types, optimized for different application areas. One example is the Stretchable TactArray Sensor (STS) which offers the ability to stretch up to 10% without degrading sensor performance. This unique feature makes the STS sensor ideal for applications where the sensor must be deformed during use. The simple design of the STS gives a great deal of freedom in designing solutions.

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Another example is the Conformable TactArray Sensor (CTS) which offers the combination of sensor performance and design flexibility. Built from a flexible, conductive cloth that allows the sensor to be wrapped around cylindrical objects or molded to shapes with multiple radii of curvature.

All those sensors are not for consumer products, the FingerTPS has an entry system cost of $4,995 for a single-hand set with two sensors but this price includes a video camera for synchronized video input, software, and a reference sensor for easy, one-touch calibration.

Nevertheless, a unique addition to the e-textile tool set that opens new avenues in designing more comfortable consumer products but also opens the doors to new types of user interaction concepts.

Check out more details directly by PPS.

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