Micromachines (Feb 2024)

The T-Blep: A Soft Optical Sensor for Stiffness and Contact Force Measurement

  • Federico Bernabei,
  • Matteo Lo Preti,
  • Lucia Beccai

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 15, no. 2
p. 233


Read online

This paper presents the Tactile Blep (T-Blep), an optical soft sensor that can measure the stiffness and force of different materials. The sensor consists of an inflatable membrane with an optical elements inside. The T-Blep can switch between stiffness detection and force detection modes, by changing the pattern followed by internal pressure of the membrane. Simulations reveal that a 1 mm-thick membrane enables differentiation of extra-soft, soft, and rigid targets. Furthermore, the sensitivity and FSO of the force estimation can be adjusted by varying the internal pressure. Force detection experiments exhibit a sixfold increase in detectable force range as internal pressure varies from 10 kPa to 40 kPa, with a force peak of 5.43 N and sensitivity up to 331 mV/N. A piecewise force reconstruction method provides accurate results even in challenging conditions (R2>0.994). Stiffness detection experiments reveal distinguishable patterns of pressure and voltage during indentation, resulting in a classification accuracy of 97%.