Authors: Rick S Hall, Geoffrey T Desmoulin, Theodore E Milner
Publication: Journal of Biomechanics, Volume 41, Issue 16, Pages 3492-3495
Miniature sensors that could measure forces applied by the fingers and hand without interfering with manual dexterity or range of motion would have considerable practical value in ergonomics and rehabilitation. In this study, techniques have been developed to use inexpensive pressure-sensing resistors (FSRs) to accurately measure compression force. The FSRs are converted from pressure-sensing to force-sensing devices. The effects of nonlinear response properties and dependence on loading history are compensated by signal conditioning and calibration. A fourth-order polynomial relating the applied force to the current voltage output and a linearly weighted sum of prior outputs corrects for sensor hysteresis and drift. It was found that prolonged (>20 h) shear force loading caused sensor gain to change by approximately 100%. Shear loading also had the effect of eliminating shear force effects on sensor output, albeit only in the direction of shear loading. By applying prolonged shear loading in two orthogonal directions, the sensors were converted into pure compression sensors. Such preloading of the sensor is, therefore, required prior to calibration. The error in compression force after prolonged shear loading and calibration was consistently <5% from 0 to 30 N and <10% from 30 to 40 N. This novel method of calibrating FSRs for measuring compression force provides an inexpensive tool for biomedical and industrial design applications where measurements of finger and hand force are needed.