Machine Design

How strong is your grip?

A new line of fingertip sensors measures pressures that are difficult to gauge by conventional means.

Fingertip sensors could measure a pianist playing his own composition, train medical-health practitioners in proper palm or finger pressures for infant CPR, or help design a better computer mouse.

FingerTPS tactile pressure sensors, from Pressure Profile Systems Inc., Los Angeles, are worn on a person's fingertips and palm to measure the pressures exerted while using a tool or performing some other action.

Applications could range from recording a pianist, to training medicalhealth practitioners in proper palm or finger pressures for infant CPR, to designing a better tool handle or computer mouse. The system could also quantify what has been an entirely subjective measurement — pain — by objectively determining the sensitivity of injured tissues to touch, as might be done for burn victims.

Based on capacitive-sensor technology, the sensors measure pressures up to 10 lb in 0.1-lb increments. Less than 2-mm thick, they are mounted in stretchable fabric for a snug fit on the user's fingers. The systems are USB powered and supported by PC-resident software, which displays and tracks time-series, average, and peak pressures.

Pressure Profile Systems Inc.,

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