This Sensor Let Prosthetic Fingers Feel Applied Force

A camera system monitors changes to the interior of a prosthetic finger to determine location, magnitude, and direction of applied force.

Prosthetics get closer to functioning like the actual limbs they replace each year. A recent Medgadget article noted the latest in prosthetic technology that gives robots and amputees the ability to feel a gradient of  applied force. A team of engineers at Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Design developed a fingertip sensor that gives robots, and robotic prostheses, the ability to gauge how much force is applied to it. 

The system consists of a camera mounted inside a rubbery robot finger that monitors the interior walls of a hollow chamber within the area. The area is lit by a ring of LEDs, and a neural network interprets the camera feed to precisely calculate the location, magnitude, and direction of the force applied to the finger. A video demonstration can be seen here.

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