A 3D-Printed Soft Haptic Device with Built-in Force Sensing Delivering Bio-Mimicked Feedback
Haptics plays a significant role not only in the rehabilitation of neurological disorders, such as stroke, by substituting necessary cognitive information but also in human–computer interfaces (HCIs), which are now an integral part of the recently launched metaverse. This study proposes a unique, soft, monolithic haptic feedback device (SoHapS) that was directly manufactured using a low-cost and open-source fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer by employing a combination of soft conductive and nonconductive thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) materials (NinjaTek, USA). SoHapS consists of a soft bellow actuator and a soft resistive force sensor, which are optimized using finite element modeling (FEM). SoHapS was characterized both mechanically and electrically to assess its performance, and a dynamic model was developed to predict its force output with given pressure inputs. We demonstrated the efficacy of SoHapS in substituting biofeedback with tactile feedback, such as gripping force, and proprioceptive feedback, such as finger flexion–extension positions, in the context of teleoperation. With its intrinsic properties, SoHapS can be integrated into rehabilitation robots and robotic prostheses, as well as augmented, virtual, and mixed reality (AR/VR/MR) systems, to induce various types of bio-mimicked feedback.
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University of Wollongong