Experimental Evaluation of a Hybrid Sensory Feedback System for Haptic and Kinaesthetic Perception in Hand Prostheses
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)
This study proposes a new hybrid multi-modal sensory feedback system for prosthetic hands that can provide not only haptic and proprioceptive feedback but also facilitate object recognition without the aid of vision. Modality-matched haptic perception was provided using a mechanotactile feedback system that can proportionally apply the gripping force through the use of a force controller. A vibrotactile feedback system was also employed to distinguish four discrete grip positions of the prosthetic hand. The system performance was evaluated with a total of 32 participants in three different experiments (i) haptic feedback, (ii) proprioceptive feedback and (iii) object recognition with hybrid haptic-proprioceptive feedback. The results from the haptic feedback experiment showed that the participants' ability to accurately perceive applied force depended on the amount of force applied. As the feedback force was increased, the participants tended to underestimate the force levels, with a decrease in the percentage of force estimation. Of the three arm locations (forearm volar, forearm ventral and bicep), and two muscle states (relaxed and tensed) tested, the highest accuracy was obtained for the bicep location in the relaxed state. The results from the proprioceptive feedback experiment showed that participants could very accurately identify four different grip positions of the hand prosthesis (i.e., open hand, wide grip, narrow grip, and closed hand) without a single case of misidentification. In experiment 3, participants could identify objects with different shapes and stiffness with an overall high success rate of 90.5% across all combinations of location and muscle state. The feedback location and muscle state did not have a significant effect on object recognition accuracy. Overall, our study results indicate that the hybrid feedback system may be a very effective way to enrich a prosthetic hand user's experience of the stiffness and shape of commonly manipulated objects.
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