PPS Insights

Quantifying Hand Ergonomics With The Tactile Glove

INTRODUCTION

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are injuries or disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints and cartilage. Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) are conditions caused, prolonged or made worse by work conditions. Ergonomics / human factors considers the interaction between humans and other parts of a system. A goal of ergonomics is to reduce stress and eliminate injuries and disorders associated with the overuse of muscles, bad posture, and repeated tasks. A workplace ergonomics program can aim to prevent or control injuries and illnesses by eliminating or reducing worker exposure to WMSD risk factors using engineering and administrative controls. Risk factors include awkward postures, repetition, material handling, force, mechanical compression and duration of exposure. There is strong evidence that job tasks that require a combination of risk factors (e.g., highly repetitious, forceful hand/wrist exertions) increase risk for hand/wrist tendinitis. Fifty percent of industries reported work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD) rely heavily on the use of hand tools. 

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Topics: Measure forces on the hand, Quantify hand ergonomics, TactileGlove

TactileGlove R5 Release

Our TactileGlove system continues to lead the market in the analysis of contact mechanics between objects and the human hand. After the resounding success seen with the 4th revision of the TactileGlove we got straight to work in designing the next iteration of this ground breaking system.

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Topics: New Developments

Revolutionizing Cancer Detection With Capacitive Tactile Sensing

Despite advancements in various imaging modalities, the simple sense of touch has remained among the most-effective means of detecting breast and prostate cancer. But while breast exams and digital rectal exams have proven to be reliable methods of detection, they are subjective in nature. By capturing and quantifying the sense of touch into reproducible, objective data, however, capacitive tactile sensor solutions hold the potential to revolutionize cancer detection.

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Topics: medical devices

4 Material Options for Capacitive Tactile Sensors

Just as the blind have long learned to paint an image in their minds by tracing their hands over a person or object, so, too, can tactile sensors yield images through contact mechanics. To effectively create innovative products that exploit capacitive tactile sensor technology, however

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Topics: capacitive sensor

Touchpoints: How My Mom Inspired a Medical Sensing Breakthrough

When Pressure Profile Systems (PPS) began targeting medical device applications for our capacitive tactile sensing technology, I didn’t realize just how many lives we might touch.

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Topics: medical devices

Tactile Sensors Provide Sense Of Touch To Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS)

Minimally invasive surgery (MIS) has revolutionized patient care by dramatically reducing trauma and recovery time. Yet despite the benefit for patients, this transition to minor incisions has presented a major obstacle for some surgeons who lament the loss of their sense of touch during a procedure. In an effort to meet this unmet clinical need, researchers are exploring ways to replicate the sense of touch through the integration of capacitive tactile sensors into next-generation MIS instruments.

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Topics: medical devices

The Pressure Sensor Design Cycle

The incorporation of capacitive tactile sensing technology into medical, robotics, automotive, and a host of other applications is paving the way for the development of many innovative products. But there are inevitably still a few bumps in the road to producing a commercializable product that features sophisticated tactile pressure sensors.

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Topics: tactile pressure sensors

Tactile Pressure Sensing Keeps Knee Implants In Line

Achieving proper implant placement and alignment during knee-replacement surgery is a feat that literally requires a delicate balancing act by orthopaedic surgeons. By spurring the development of emerging knee-balancing technologies, however, capacitive tactile sensors hold the potential to improve postoperative function and pain relief by supplying quantifiable pressure data.

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Topics: medical devices

Tactile Pressure Sensors Make Esophageal Manometry More Palatable

For patients suffering from esophageal disorders and searching for answers, the lack of information gleaned from procedures such as manometry used to be tough to swallow.  Advancements in high-resolution tactile pressure sensing technology, however, have led to the development of the ManoScan 360 motility visualization system, which provides clinicians with greater detail, accuracy, and data to aid in diagnosis of esophageal problems.

Entailing the insertion of a sensor-equipped catheter through the nose and down through the esophagus and into the stomach, esophageal manometry is performed to assess function of the organ as it moves food down into the stomach through a process called peristalsis.

“The test measures how well the circular bands of muscle (sphincters) at the top and bottom of your esophagus open and close, as well as the pressure, strength, and pattern of the wave of esophageal muscle contractions that moves food along,” according to The Mayo Clinic.

And while esophageal manometry had, for years, enabled the diagnosis of such conditions as dysphagia, achalasia, gastric reflux, and scleroderma, for example, its usefulness had been somewhat limited. Conventional motility catheters typically featured just four to six pressure sensors, and the information they relayed was not particularly precise or easy to interpret. As a result, doctors were often reduced to simply saying whether or not the esophagus was performing normally.

Dissatisfied with this lack of data, Dr. Ray Clouse, who was a professor of medicine and psychiatry that specialized in gastroenterology at Washington University in St. Louis at the time, sought an alternative solution. Clouse believed that a motility catheter that yielded additional feedback on pressures occurring in the organ might lead to better diagnoses of esophageal disorders.

With this goal in mind, he developed a catheter system outfitted with a higher number of sensors. However, this system ultimately proved to be too cumbersome and, as it relied on a series of water pumps, difficult to maintain.

With the help of a motility catheter salesperson, Pressure Profile Systems (PPS) became involved with the project, driven by the realization that the application of tactile pressure sensor arrays could result in a workable solution. After two years—and with the assistance of a grant from the National Institutes of Health—PPS developed a custom motility catheter that incorporated 36 multiplexed circumferential pressure sensors.

Dubbed the ManoScan 360, the 36-element catheter system collects information about esophageal performance in much greater detail than was previously possible, and presents that information in a visual, easy-to-understand manner. In fact, the system provides a spatial resolution of nearly 10 times that of its predecessors.

Thanks to the incorporation of the numerous tactile pressure sensors, the system captures all relevant motor function measurements from the pharynx down to the stomach. Whereas physicians previously had to puzzle out a diagnosis from limited manometry readings, they now have an easy-to-understand view of how the esophagus is functioning from the inside. Isolating and diagnosing problems has become as simple as looking at a pressure map generated by the measurements taken from the complex capacitive tactile sensor arrays.

The driving concept of optimizing the product for the end-user is further exemplified in the product’s flexibility based on user preference. Rather than forcing this newer approach on healthcare providers, the manometry system was designed to accommodate those who were used to the status quo and might be resistant to change. To that end, the product’s software also includes the option to display pressure data in the conventional format that clinicians had been using for years.

The ManoScan 360 was ultimately introduced to the market in 2004 by a spinout company called Sierra Scientific Instruments (SSI). SSI was acquired by Given Imaging in 2010, which now markets the product as the ManoScan ESO.

 
 
 
 
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Topics: medical devices

Creating Pulse-Racing Medical Technologies With Tactile Sensors

Checking one’s pulse is both simple and familiar: Press two fingers against the radial artery in the wrist and count the beats to determine heart rate. But while this act can indicate heart rhythm and strength of pulse, it reveals little else about a person’s health. Thanks to capacitive tactile pressure sensing technology, however, this most basic of medical procedures can now be leveraged to obtain more-insightful patient data.

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Topics: medical devices

Proving the Accuracy of Tactile Pressure Sensing Technology

In the world of tactile pressure sensors, you’re often only as good as what you’re able to demonstrate. As such, calibrating pressure sensors is a crucially important process.

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Topics: tactile pressure sensors

3 Key Technical Tradeoffs In Capacitive Tactile Sensor Design

Often intimidated by the relatively new technology, many engineers tend to err on the side of caution and overspec capacitive tactile sensor solutions. They want it all: the best resolution, the most sensors, the fastest speeds, and the best performance. Unfortunately, that wish list simply isn’t feasible.

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Topics: capacitive sensor

A Handy Guide to Tactile Sensor Selection

Selecting the best pressure sensor for a given application can be a pressing issue for design engineers. Luckily, when it comes to capturing the sense of touch in a product, there are two primary tactile sensor technology options from which to choose.

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Topics: tactile sensor

5 Ways Tactile Sensors are Changing the Future of Medical Technology

There are basically two ways to capitalize on capacitive tactile sensor technology for Medical applications: augment the sense of touch or replace it. In the interest of exploring this area, we’ve compiled a list of five fun and fascinating potential medical uses for capacitive tactile sensors.

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Topics: medical devices

The Science of Comfort with Tactile Pressure Sensors

Pressure is a key consideration for any product that requires either prolonged body contact or contact with a particularly sensitive part of the body. Integrating capacitive tactile pressure sensors into the testing and development process, however, can help ensure that such products won’t cause pain, injury, or agitation for the user.

Ask the average man on the street to identify the most important aspect of designing a sleep apnea mask, and he might suggest function or reliability. Ask a patient who actually has to wear a sleep apnea mask, however, and she’s likely to cite an equally significant factor that might not be quite as obvious: 

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Topics: body pressure mapping

What is Tactile Capacitive Sensing?

Capacitive tactile sensing has been a driving force in the popularization of such ubiquitous touchscreen-based technologies as smartphones and tablets. In order to fully explore the potential of capacitive tactile sensors, however, engineers must first understand the basics of the technology. To that end, we’ve put together a quick primer on tactile pressure-measurement systems to bring you up to speed.

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Topics: tactile sensing

Tactile Pressure Sensors: A Perfect Fit for Clothing Design

Though it might not be obvious to the casual observer, the clothing worn by Olympic and professional athletes can be as sophisticated and technologically advanced as anything else in their toolbox. Beyond simply making the athletes look good or protecting them from the elements, their outfits are often engineered to perform specific functions for their sport - such as reducing drag or optimizing muscle use.

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Topics: comfort

3 Disadvantages of Capacitive Tactile Sensors

Capacitive tactile sensors are putting pioneering products on the map that run the gamut from enabling early detection of cancer to enhancing headset comfort. Yet despite capacitive tactile sensing’s contribution to the development of cutting-edge products, it is—like any technology—not without its drawbacks. Below we touch upon three distinct drawbacks of capacitive sensors

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Topics: capacitive sensor

Tactile Sensors Chart a New Course for Pressure Mapping

Widely used in the field of biomechanics, pressure mapping has historically provided a visual representation of pressure distribution for the optimization of such products as wheelchair cushions and orthotics. Capacitive tactile sensors are opening the door for the development of a multitude of innovative new medical devices, however, by taking pressure mapping technology to the next level and quantifying the sense of touch.

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Topics: pressure mapping