Fachbereich Informatik

Force-Sensing Book - Manipulandum

Bachelor--Thesis at group TAMS


Human manipulation skills rely to a large degree on force and tactile sensing from the fingertips. Measuring and modeling those forces during object manipulation tasks remains an important open research question. Unfortunately, those forces are very difficult to measure, as external sensors on the fingers (e.g. a dataglove) restrain the fingers and soften the tactile perception.

An alternative approach is to put the sensors into the manipulated objects, so that the human motions are not disturbed and can be recorded. The goal of this Bachelor thesis is to design and build an instrumented multisensor object in the shape of a typical book, that can be used to record and analyze a variety of common manipulation tasks:

Hardware design

To track object motion and to measure the applied finger forces, the instrumented object will be constructed from several parts connected via force sensors (either strain-gauges or optical sensors) and joints. At least one IMU will be included to track the overall object motion. An integrated microcontroller (e.g. Arduino nano IOT or ESP 32) will sample the sensors and transmit realtime data via WiFi or save the data to a sdcard for offline analysis. As the system needs to be battery-powered, a suitable power-supply circuit is also part of the hardware design. Details of the hardware design are up to discussion. A modular construction with small and compact electronics and exchangable passive outer shells to model books of different sizes and weights would be best:

Software and ROS integration

The microcontroller firmware will be as simple as possible, sampling the on-board sensors and transmitting data to the laboratory workstations for analysis and visulation. To integrate with our ROS-based robotics and motion-tracking setup, a small ROS node (python or C++) is needed to parse the incoming WiFi data and publish the data to the ROS environment. A 3D graphical visualization of object pose and applied forces (e.g. arrows) could also be part of the thesis.

Thesis Goals: