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A Multi-chamber Pneumatic Actuator to Render a Percept of Softness to the Finger Pad
Alton R. Sharpe, Steven C. Hauser, and Gregory J. Gerling
(University of Virginia, USA)
WIP Poster A2
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Abstract: The display of compliance, or ‘softness,’ to the finger pad is important for replicating interactions such as holding another’s hand and identifying tissue irregularities. To contribute to work in this area, we designed a multi-chamber pneumatic actuator, fabricated of silicone elastomer with concentric rings at its surface coupled to a drum at its base. Using air pressure, different combinations of chambers can be inflated to variable degrees in real-time. In this way, attributes including the curvature, displacement, and spatial features of its surface as well as bulk compliance can be separately configured. Such capability is needed to decipher the cutaneous cues that drive perception. Precise cues remain unresolved, but likely tie to contact area as a function of force or displacement, over time. In a series of imaging and force measurement experiments, the actuator was evaluated in producing concave and convex surfaces, displacing upward, and inflating its drum. Spatial features from single hard spots to open holes were also produced. The next steps, leading to psychophysical experiments, are to further miniaturize and increase the number of surface rings, and integrate the actuator with a wearable fixture on the finger.


Time stamp: 2019-03-26T21:36:40+01:00