TakkTile sensors are an inexpensive, highly sensitive, easy-to-fabricate tactile sensor based on MEMS barometers. They provide the ability to detect gentle contacts in the range of one to several dozen grams, and can be easily embedded into soft rubber (Tenzer, 2014).
TakkTile's technology leverages these MEMS barometers to deliver 1-gram sensitivity for a fraction of the cost of existing systems. In addition to very fine sensitivity TakkTile sensors are durable enough to survive being crushed by a 25-lb weight.
Hundreds of tactile sensing arrays are available through literature and commercially, but despite the apparently abundant pool of sensor arrays there has been little experimental progress in using tactile information. A major factor is the cost and complexity of using the existing sensors, and in particular the challenge of integrating them into systems at the small scale required for research prototypes scale. It is difficult to get a consistent results from custom manufacturing processes at small volume, and commercial sensors are typically very expensive.
By building on MEMS Barometers, the team at TakkTile is able to create a sensor that is not only simple to manufacture but also inexpensive due to consumer economies of scale from other applications. MEMS barometers have found widespread application in consumer mobile devices such as GPS locators, where they are used for altitude calibration. TakkTile uses MPL115A2 sensors from Freescale. The chips consist of a MEMS diaphragm with a Wheatstone bridge, a instrumentation amplifier, a temperature sensor, multiplexer, analog-to-digital converter, and I2C bus — all for ~$1 USD. The diaphragm is cast under rubber, and vacuum degassed to bring rubber against the diaphragm. This greatly improves consistency and sensitivity.
They can also be integrated with flexible printed circuit boards to provide flexible contact sensing (Jentoft et al. 2013).
For more information, visit http://www.takktile.com
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