Diagram of Tactile imaging
Tactile imaging using universal conductors. (Credit: Osaka University)

Researchers have developed a new approach to pressure distribution measurement using tactile imaging technology.

Pressure is one of the primary characteristics of touch, and tactile imaging can be used to measure pressure or stress distributions across an object of interest. The most common current approach to tactile imaging involves use of an array of sensors composed of pressure-sensitive materials. However, such arrays require complex fabrication processes and place limitations on the sensor design, hence the necessity of a new method.

The design concept combined innovation in mechatronics technology, which enabled development of a flexible sensor based on conventional conductors connected to electrodes, with a tomography-based approach to determining the pressure distribution across the coupled conductors. The ease of adjustment of the sensitivity and sensing range and the pressure estimation precision means that this tactile imaging approach is expected to enable advanced control of multipurpose robots.

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