Innovative ICT system to restore the sense of touch in patients with sensory deficit
This paper proposes a validation method of the fabrication technology of a screen-printed electronic skin based on polyvinylidene fluoride-trifluoroethylene P(VDF-TrFE) piezoelectric polymer sensors. This required researchers to insure, through non-direct sensor characterization, that printed sensors were working as expected. For that, we adapted an existing model to non-destructively extract sensor behavior in pure compression (i.e., the d33 piezocoefficient) by indentation tests over the skin surface. Different skin patches, designed to sensorize a glove and a prosthetic hand (11 skin patches, 104 sensors), have been tested. Reproducibility of the sensor response and its dependence upon sensor position on the fabrication substrate were examined, highlighting the drawbacks of employing large A3-sized substrates. The average value of d33 for all sensors was measured at incremental preloads (1–3 N). A systematic decrease has been checked for patches located at positions not affected by substrate shrinkage. In turn, sensor reproducibility and d33 adherence to literature values validated the e-skin fabrication technology. To extend the predictable behavior to all skin patches and thus increase the number of working sensors, the size of the fabrication substrate is to be decreased in future skin fabrication. The tests also demonstrated the efficiency of the proposed method to characterize embedded sensors which are no more accessible for direct validation.
Tactile sensors are widely employed to enable the sense of touch for applications such as robotics and prosthetics. In addition to the selection of an appropriate sensing material, the performance of the tactile sensing system is conditioned by its interface electronic system. On the other hand, due to the need to embed the tactile sensing system into a prosthetic device, strict requirements such as small size and low power consumption are imposed on the system design. This paper presents the experimental assessment and characterization of an interface electronic system for piezoelectric tactile sensors for prosthetic applications. The interface electronic is proposed as part of a wearable system intended to be integrated into an upper limb prosthetic device. The system is based on a low power arm-microcontroller and a DDC232 device. Electrical and electromechanical setups have been implemented to assess the response of the interface electronic with PVDF-based piezoelectric sensors. The results of electrical and electromechanical tests validate the correct functionality of the proposed system.