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The TU-Berlin SensorGlove

- Technical Description -

Frank Hofmann / Jürgen Henz

1. Introduction

The TU Berlin SensorGlove was developed at the institute for Real-Time Systems and Robotics of the computer science department at the Technical University of Berlin. It was part of the project "Anthropomorphic Robot Hand", in which it was developed in the framework of a student and diploma thesis. It was shown at the Hanover Industrial Fair in 1993, arousing widespread interest. The improved second prototype was presented at the CeBIT 1995.

The patented glove is used as a computer input device for human grasping movements and hand gestures. It is equipped with different types of sensors enabling highly precise measurements (cf. Technical Data, Section 5). A closer description follows below.

2. General Description

The first prototype of the TUB-SensorGlove consists of two main parts:

The twelve capacitive pressure sensors are placed on the glove's inside (cf. Fig. 1). Two sensors per finger and two on the palm sense the pressure distribution when an object is grasped.

The position sensors are fastened to the glove's back. As one can observe in Fig. 2, ten sensors measure finger flexion and two additional sensors obtain the thumb rotation. Though all the thumb's joints are measured, bending values are captured only for two joints of each of the other four fingers. By this, most finger movements can be characterized in sufficient detail. If needed, further sensors may be attached to additionally measure finger splaying and flexion of the other four topmost joints.

The method of measurement (the position sensors are inductive length encoders) ensures high resolution and mechanical robustness (=> no maintenance). Their resolution is substantially higher than that of hitherto available commercial products, as e.g. the DataGlove(TM) by VPL-Research.

Controller and sensors are connected by auxiliary circuitry. The controller digitizes the measured signals and groups the results into data tuples, whereafter they are sent to other computers via a serial interface.

The first SensorGlove was made from cotton to enable comfortable wearing over extended periods of time.

The second prototype, as displayed at the Hanover CeBIT 1995, is an improved version of the first glove. An external controlling device is no longer needed, as a microcontroller is included on the glove. The glove can communicate with other computers directly via the integrated RS 232 serial interface. The sensors were miniaturized and their electronics improved. Special new sensors measuring the glove's movements in space allow its use completely independent from any fixed location (external 3D-reference points are not needed).

The second prototype is made from Lycra so that the sensors are held in place firmly on the fingers without decreasing the usage comfort.

3. Applications

Its high accuracy and excellent mechanical robustness predestine the TUB-SensorGlove for application in many areas, as e.g.:

4. Current Work

The second prototype presented at the CeBIT 1995 is already extremely useful in daily research work. One goal for the currently commencing development of the third prototype is to improve the glove's functions especially for applications in gesture language research.

Goals are:

5. Preliminary Technical Data

Typical measurement rates for some sensor configurations (rates are dynamically adjustable):

Sensors / Tupel Size [bytes] / Measurement Rate [tuples per second] *)

12x Position / 12 / 83

12x Position, 12x Pressure / 24 / 42

12x Position, 12x Pressure, 3x Hand movement / 27 / 37

*) Typical duration of one measurement: approx. 1ms (as the measurement accuracy is dynamically adjustable, shorter periods of measurement are possible)

6. Contact

Technische Universität Berlin
Institut für Technische Informatik
Sekretariat EN10
Einsteinufer 17
D-10587 Berlin

Last change: Friday, 03-Nov-1995

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