Conformable Tactile Sensor for Surgical Data Acquisition

Period of Performance: 08/19/1998 - 05/31/2000

$250K

Phase 2 STTR

Recipient Firm

Pressure Profile Systems, Inc.
LOS ANGELES, CA 90045
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Harvard University
9 Oxford St
Cambridge, MA 02138
Institution POC

Abstract

Surgeons rely on the sense of touch, but surprisingly little is know about the interactions that occur at the surgeon's finger tips. The proposed project will create a "tactile glove system" (TGS) that can be worn on the surgeon's hands to measure pressure distributions during surgical procedures. In Phase I, Pressure Profile Systems (PPS), a manufacturer of multi-element pressure sensing systems, developed a conformable tactile sensor. In contrast to existing devices, this thin and flexible tactile pressure distribution sensor has good sensitivity to contact forces but minimal response to shear loads and bending. In Phase II, PPS will improve this sensing technology and integrate it with electronic and software components to create the TGS. Harvard University will perform experiments to evaluate the prototype glove in pertinent applications, including ergonomics, physical therapy, and surgical documentation. This will allow sensor design optimization, and provide insight into the tactile fidelity required in future haptic interfaces. The TGS will enable the measurement of finger tip forces and motions in surgical procedures for the first time. The resulting information about interactions between the surgeons' hands and the patient's tissues is essential for improving realism in surgical simulations systems. TGS can provide interaction force information with objects and environments. This technology will also find important applications in ergonomics and biomechanics research. In product design, TGS will allows designers to evaluate forces required to operate new designs without putting sensors on every prototype. In rehabilitation and physical therapy, TGS will allows designers to evaluate forces required to operate new designs without putting sensors on every prototype. In rehabilitation and physical therapy, TGS will be used to evaluate hand functions after injury and stroke. Commercial availability of the proposed project is very promising based on the enthusiastic responses from potential customers.