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Smart films facilitate human-machine interaction


Doctoral scholar Sebastian Gratz-Kelly from Professor Stefan Seelecke’s analysis group demonstrates the prototype glove that might be showcased at Hannover Messe. Credit: Saarland University IMSL/Moritz Helm

Think about this: A clean touchscreen show positioned on prime of a skinny silicone polymer movie all of a sudden generates the sensation of a tiny raised button beneath the person’s finger. Or how in regards to the thought of sporting that very same polymer movie like a second pores and skin? If used to line an industrial glove, the movie can present priceless suggestions by gesture recognition and by sending tactile alerts, reminiscent of pulses or vibrations, to the wearer. The analysis staff led by Professor Stefan Seelecke of Saarland University might be at this 12 months’s Hannover Messe, the economic commerce truthful operating from 30 May to 2 June, the place the staff might be demonstrating how sensible tactile surfaces are actually getting used as novel human-machine interfaces.

Seelecke’s analysis staff at Saarland University are utilizing skinny silicone movies to provide surfaces some very novel capabilities. The expertise, which is ready to create the feeling of a tactile “button” or “slider” on flat glass show screens, is actually bringing a brand new dimension to touchscreen interactions. The polymer film is ready to change form on demand to create the sensation of a raised button or a key on the floor of the show that the person can then use, for instance, to navigate round a web page or to enter information.

“Using this technology, we can make the user interfaces of smart phones, information screens or household devices more user friendly,” mentioned Seelecke, who heads the Clever Materials Techniques Lab at Saarland University. If a person feels a pulse or vibration beneath their fingertips, they will then reply by tapping the display screen. And since the person additionally experiences the slight resistance that we really feel once we press a ‘actual’ button or change, they know that their response has been profitable. For the blind and partially sighted, this form of bodily suggestions isn’t a gimmick, however massively priceless of their each day lives.

If these high-tech movies are used to line clothes, they will additionally act as a tactile human-machine interface. One instance of this sort of software can be to fully line the within of an meeting operator’s glove with the extremely versatile elastic polymer movie and to make use of it as a sensor so {that a} computer system is aware of how the operator is shifting their hand and fingers. “Our technology allows us to make the system smarter by introducing a complex sensor into a glove that the operator would anyway be wearing,” mentioned Seelecke. And since the movies are solely about 50 microns thick, they do not intervene with the operator’s work. If this form of interactive glove is utilized in an Business 4.0 surroundings, the system can acknowledge what motion the glove wearer is attempting to carry out.

“The operator could, for example, control a process through the movement of their hand. When working on complex industrial plant equipment, the system could help to avoid potentially costly mistakes by sending a tactile signal, such as a tap, a pulse or a vibration, to the operator’s hand or fingers,” defined Seelecke.

The analysis staff might be at this 12 months’s Hannover Messe the place they are going to be showcasing a prototype sensor-enhanced glove and a haptic show. Their novel polymer movie expertise is also utilized in pc video games to make the gaming expertise extra intense.

The specifically ready silicone movies are sensible materials methods that may be powered just by the appliance of an electrical present. “A highly flexible electrically conducting layer is printed onto each side of the ultrathin silicone film to create what is known as a ‘dielectric elastomer’. When we apply a voltage to the elastomer, the two electrodes attract each other, compressing the polymer and causing it to expand out sideways, increasing its surface area, which in turn alters the electrical capacitance of the film,” defined Paul Motzki, a analysis scientist in Seelecke’s staff.

When the operator bends a finger whereas sporting the glove, the movie stretches like a second pores and skin and this distortion causes a change in capacitance. The researchers are capable of exactly assign a capacitance worth to every place of the movie because it distorts. So a particular capacitance worth primarily represents a particular place of the operator’s finger, and a sequence of capacitance values represents the trail taken by the finger because it strikes. The movie is thus a stretchable sensor that may successfully act as a sensory organ in engineering purposes. The glove can sense how the hand strikes and the sensible touchscreen can sense whether or not the person has pressed a digital button.

By combining measurement values and clever algorithms, the staff has developed a management unit that may predict and program movement sequences and thus exactly management how the elastomer movie deforms. “We make use of the properties of these dielectric elastomers to design drive systems,” defined Sophie Nalbach, the engineer who heads the Electroactive Polymers Group that’s a part of Professor Seelecke’s Clever Materials Techniques Lab.

By altering the utilized electrical area, the researchers could make the movie pulse, make it take up some desired form or make it oscillate or flex at some required frequency. When mixed with the electroactive polymer system, an industrial glove is ready to work together with its wearer or a show display screen can work together with the person. “If we place the thin glass screen of a tablet computer on top of the polymer film, the film can perform a very rapid flexing motion underneath the user’s fingertip, which gives the user the impression that their finger is resting on a button or key,” defined Nalbach.

At current, the staff is engaged on quite a few totally different analysis tasks which can be geared toward interconnecting these film-based drive methods in order that they will talk and cooperate collectively. To do that the researchers might want to impart new capabilities to surfaces and interfaces, which in flip requires additional miniaturization of the expertise. The dielectric elastomer movies are light-weight, versatile, quiet, power environment friendly and cost-effective to fabricate.


Smart glove for Industry 4.0: Connecting the physical hand to the virtual world


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Sensible movies facilitate human-machine interplay (2022, May 24)
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