Archive for the ‘Actuators / Haptics’ Category

The Tacit Project: An Arduino-based sonar feedback device for the blind

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Steve Hoefer from Grathio Labs has developed the Tacit project, basically an assistance device for sonar obstacle avoidance with haptic feedback. The device can measure the distance to objects and translate that into pressure on the wrist. It is based on our favorite Arduino Mini Pro.

According to Steve, it’s wrist mounted and senses objects from about 1 inch (2 cm) to 10 feet (3.5m).  It has generally fast response time (fractions of a second) to quickly navigate complex environments. It’s designed to help a vision impaired person to navigate complex environments.  Mounted to the back of the hand, the force feedback means it doesn’t interfere with other assistance devices that mount elsewhere and use audio feedback cues.

Steve shares in his post all the information on how to build it (parts and schematics) and the Arduino code as well. Great work and beautiful design Steve!

Check also the video for a short live demo of the prototype:


Supporting Medical Stuff during CPR of Infants using Arduino

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Recently I dropped on the paper entitled “Rhythm of Life Aid (ROLA): An Integrated Sensor System for Supporting Medical Staff During Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) of Newborn Infants” in IEEE TITB Journal.

Authors present a system that utilizes various sensors and provides audiovisual feedback to physicians for exercising the  Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on newborn infants.







CRP is a crucial medical procedure for the survival of a newborn infant when complications, such as asphyxia or severe infection leading to cessation of breathing and decrease of the heart rate, exist.

On one hand, improper chest compressions could cause internal injury to patients, such as rib fractures, punctured lungs, and damage to the heart, liver, or spleen. On the other hand, insufficient compression depth can be caused by too soft compressions. Therefore, instructions and trainings on CPR for both adults and children are necessary.

The system consists of  a timing circuit with two buzzers for the compression–ventilation “beeps.” The visual feedback loop contains an FSR sensor as input and EL-foil actuator as a visual output of the chest compression pressure. The heart of the prototype is an Arduino Mini that receives all the sensor feedback and forwards it to a PC for data logging and also performs audiovisual generation.






A prototype ROLA device is built, consisting of a transparent foil integrated with pressure sensor and electroluminescent foil actuators for indication of the exerted chest compression pressure, as well as an audio box to generate distinctive sounds as audio guidance for insufflations and compressions.











Testing results have shown that the use of ROLA device leads to a more constant rhythm and pressure of chest compressions during CPR of newborn infants!

Keyglove: A wearable, wireless, open source device

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

The Keyglove is an innovative new way to interact with your technology. A wearable, wireless, open-source input device, the Keyglove provides unprecedented flexibility and convenience for gaming, design, art, music, data entry, device control, 3D object manipulation, and even inexpensive telepresence. The Keyglove uses customizable touch combinations and gestures to enter text data, control the mouse, switch between applications and perform multiple operations with a single action.

Some of the basic features include:

  • Touch-based full keyboard input
  • Motion-based full mouse control
  • Gesture control for mouse and/or keyboard commands
  • 3D spatial input for representing motion and position in a 3D environment
  • Completely customizable touch configuration and behavior
  • Touch-and-hold modifier key capability
  • Shortcut key combinations (e.g. Ctrl+Alt+F1)
  • Batch entries (e.g. one touch to send full words at once)
Apart from the obvious usage in wearable computing, gaming and VR interfacing, the Keyglove can also be utilized in cases of limited mobility and motion disabilities or for monitoring the progress/rehabilitation of motion diseases as well!
Currently, the Keyglove prototype is based on an Arduino Mega, and build instructions here will give you more details on how to make your own!

The Sign Language Glove

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Kendal Lowrey from CMU’s Biomedical Engineering Design Capstone class has developed a glove that is capable of ‘translating’ sign language into American English.

The system consists of an accelerometer and flex sensors. All this plugs into an Arduino Mega. The output is this Sparkfun made Speakjet Arduino shield; think of it as text-to-speech. It is capable of pronouncing a list of phonetics, from which you can configure it to say them in the right order to make words, or gobbledegook. This pushed out an audio signal to the tiny speaker, and mirrored the results onto the LCD screen.

After the sensor data comes in and is converted to digital values through the Arduino’s on board ADC, and is slightly filtered, it gets formatted into a simple state matrix: 5 values for the flex sensors, 3 for each axis of the accelerometer. This state matrix gets run through a Naive Bayesian Classifier whenever the state has stabilized, i.e. the user has performed a gesture/letter and holds that position for a specified amount of time. After the classifier has done its duty, the Arduino takes the gesture of what it thinks to have just been done, and looks it up in it’s dictionary, this was the alphabet and like 10 words, due to memory constraints. The recognizable gestures corresponded to entries in it’s recognition dictionary, which translated between the gesture to the requisite phonetic commands for the Speakjet. These phonetics get sent to the Speakjet chip, and a freakishly robotic voice then says the word.

Very interesting work, done some time ago, hopefully there will be updates that will make the glove more precise and capable of translating more gestures!

The Haptic Compass

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Another project by Monkeys & Robots that demonstrates how easy and feasible it is to build  projects with haptic feedback for the visually impaired or for people with orientation issues.

The belt has twelve shaftless vibration motors spaced equally along its length. The motors are epoxied to a 14 conductor ribbon cable.  They connect electrically by plugging in to the ribbon crimps spaced along the cable.  The control box contains a Sparkfun Funnel IO Arduino board, (currently replaced by Arduino FIO) which has a built in XBee socket and LiPO charger IC on board.  The box also contains a I2C Honeywell compass module.  Its powered by a LiPO battery.

The belt can be enhanced by communicating with an Android phone for allowing gps assisted guidance or connected to IR sensors and warn users when walking close to physical obstacles, etc.

Interactive maternity clothing – Kickbee

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Corey Menscher has developed a wearable device called Kickbee that can detect kicks and other movements from unborn babies during the pregnancy.

The Kickbee is a wearable device made of a stretchable band and embedded electronics and sensors. Piezo sensors are attached directly to the band, and transmit small but detectable voltages when triggered by movement underneath. Using an Arduino  the piezo sensor signals are transmit to a Java application wireless via Bluetooth to a computer. The Java application receives the sensor values and analyzes them when the unborn baby kicks and a Twitter message is posted via the Twitter API on the computer.

Kickbee has evolved to a product and can be found here.

It is an interesting (and probably quite exciting for potential parents) project demonstrating how Arduino can be used to interface with haptic feedback from our body.

Haptic Assisted Locating of Obstacles – H.A.L.O. using Arduino :-)

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Polymythic had the idea to develop a haptic feedback device for the visually impaired (Project H.A.L.O. as he has named it), that uses a series of rangefinders that would take input from sensors and output feedback to pulse vibration motors placed on a person’s head. As a person gets closer to an object the intensity and frequency of the vibration would increase – it’s directly proportional to the distance of an object. If a region was lacking feedback, then it would be safe to proceed in that direction.


The main microcontroller for receiving the sensor feedback and generating the vibrations is Arduino Mega 2560.

More information and build instructions here!

BrailleDuino: A Braille interface built with Arduino!

Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

Neuro spaghetti presents a tutorial on how to implementthe electronic part for an innovative braille interface that can be connected to a computer via USB.

The device is composed by:

  • 6 buttons on the top side:
    • 3 buttons for the left hand and 3 buttons for the right hand
  • a rather special sheet that emboss on the fly braille characters
  • a set of 6 microactuators that emboss on the special sheet

This video shows here the initial prototype:

More info here.

Arduino Wireless Animatronic Hand

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Very interesting project found in instructables.

A custom made robotic hand build by a Easton Lachappelle that allows him to control the hand in real time with his own movements. It contains some sewed some flex sensors onto a glove and a custom Arduino shield he built. The Arduino is also connected to an XBee radio, allowing it to interface with the animatronic hand wirelessly.

The project was submitted at the regional science fair in Durango Colorado and was given the 1st place in the Air Force Engineering!

More details and instructions here.


Muscle Sensors for Arduino!

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Measuring muscle activation via electric potential, referred to as electromyography (EMG) , has traditionally been used for medical research and diagnosis of neuromuscular disorders. However, with the advent of ever shrinking yet more powerful microcontrollers and integrated circuits, EMG sensors have found their way into prosthetics, robotics and other contol systems.

Advancer Technologies is now selling  low-cost muscle (EMG) sensors to be used with microcontrollers. These sensors are designed to be used by hobbyist, backyard tinkerers and students alike.

The muscle is measured by sensing the voltage between the muscle and its tendon. The result is a fairly fine-grained sensing of the output – more than enough to provide some analog control for a project.

The board itself is relatively simple – an INA106 differential amp is used to sense if a muscle is flexing or not. This signal is then amplified and rectified, after which it can be connected to the analog input of an Arduino!