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R&D Focus

Higher Sensitivity Tactile-Film System for Wearable Orthosis (HSTS)

Essential tremor is a movement disorder which causes involuntary shaking when one performs daily activities such as eating, drinking, and writing. The Higher Sensitivity
Tactile-Film System for Wearable Orthosis (HSTS), developed by ITRI, Waseda University, and Kikuchi Seisakusho Co., Ltd., helps people with such a syndrome to tackle this problem.

HSTS is a thin film sensor technology which interprets the pressure variations of human skin deformation in a wearable orthosis in order to aid one’s actions. HSTS operates using four primary components: the tactile-film, the data acquisition circuit box, the monitoring and image processing software, and the wearable robotic orthosis.

The primary components of the HSTS system.

The primary components of the HSTS system.

The tactile film consists of thin-film tactile sensor arrays which sense the wearer’s actions via force application and regional pressure variation in order to provide better sensitivity, lightness and thinness, and flexibility. The data acquisition circuit box ensures accurate measurements through generating a single scan on all array channels. The monitoring and image processing software measures pressure distribution to solve classification problems, and the wearable robotic orthosis suppresses tremors and supports voluntary movement at the elbow, including flexing and extending.

The tactile-film is attached to the inner surface of the orthosis bracket.

The tactile-film is attached to the inner surface of the orthosis bracket.

Many attempts to create artificial limbs and machines use electromyogram (EMG) as the control demand. However, it is difficult to precisely reflect surface muscle activities. In comparison, HSTS can reduce the possibility of this incorrect judgement as it is not as easily influenced by physiological changes. Furthermore, this technology possesses other advantages such as having a lower cost and smaller disturbance.

With the ability to detect the human body’s muscle, posture, and action variations, HSTS allows people with essential tremor to control their actions according to their own will, and ultimately improves their quality of life. As the market for health and auxiliary wearable devices is increasing, HSTS will gain more attention and explore more of its potential.