Optimization of stretchable fingernail sensor design for fingertip force direction estimation
T h e U n i v e r s i t y o f U t a h G r a d u a t e S c h o o l STATEMENT OF DISSERTATION APPROVAL The dissertation of Jumana M. Abu-Khalaf has been approved by the following supervisory committee members: ABSTRACT The optimization of novel stretchable fingernail sensors for detecting fingertip touch force direction is introduced. The fingernail sensor uses optical reflectance photoplethysmography to measure the change in blood perfusion in the fingernail bed when the finger pad touches a
... ace with various forces. This "fingernail sensing" technique involves mounting an array of LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) and photodetectors on the fingernail surface to detect changes in the reflection intensity as a function of applied force. The intensity changes correspond to changes in blood volume underneath the fingernail and allow for fingertip force detection without haptic obstruction, which has several applications in the area of human-machine interaction. This dissertation experimentally determines the optimal optical parameters for the transmittance of light through the human fingernail bed. Specifically, the effect of varying the wavelength and optical path length on light transmittance through the nail bed are thoroughly investigated. Light transmittance through the human fingernail is optimized when using green light (525nm) and when placing optoelectronic pairs as close together as possible. The optimal locations of the optoelectronic devices are predicted by introducing an optical model that describes light transmittance between an LED and a photodiode in the fingernail area based on optical experimentation. A reduced configuration is derived from the optimal optoelectronic locations in order to facilitate iv the fabrication of the optimized fingernail sensor without significantly compromising the recognition accuracy. This results in an overall force direction recognition accuracy of 95%. Using novel fabrication techniques, we successfully build a stretchable fingernail sensor prototype, which fully conforms to the two-dimensional fingernail surface and is independent of its geometry. Namely, we overcome the challenges of patterning conductive lines on a stretchable substrate, and embedding rigid optical components in a stretchable platform while maintaining electrical conductivity. A finite element analysis is conducted to optimize the electrical contact resistance between the optoelectronic components and underlying stretchable conductors, as a function of the bending curvature and substrate thickness. The functionality of the stretchable sensor is tested in relation to the design parameters. Finally, applications and potential impacts of this work are discussed.