Multi-channel Electro-tactile Feedback System for a Prosthetic Hand

  • Koren Ward
  • Daniel Pamungkas


Amputees with prosthetic hands often have difficulty holding and manipulating objects due to the absence of the sense of touch. This is especially true with tasks that require some degree of skill and tactile feedback to perform. To provide prosthetic hands with touch sensing and tactile feedback, researchers have been experimenting with various types of force and/or tactile sensors together with various methods for delivering the tactile information to the brain. Although some success has been achieved recently with force sensors and implanted electrodes, these systems are expensive, surgically invasive and can represent an infection risk where cables are attached to nerves through the skin. Also, non-invasive tactile feedback methods involving temperature, vibrations or electro-mechanical force feedbacks, can be somewhat awkward and ineffective due to being cumbersome or unable to deliver appropriate sensations. To address some of these issues we have developed an electro-tactile feedback system for prosthetic hands. Our system is comprised of force sensors that can be placed almost anywhere on a prosthetic hand, and TENS electrodes that can be placed on the wearer’s arm. Our system is inexpensive, multi-channel and easily fitted to existing prosthetic hands. Experimental results are provided that show how this form of tactile feedback can enable a user to feel various objects touched or gripped with a robotic humanoid hand.


Prosthetic hand Electro-tactile feedback 


  1. 1.
    MacKenzie, C., and T. Iberall. 2010. The grasping hand. Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Johansson, R.S., and J.R. Flanagan. 2009. Coding and use of tactile signals from the fingertips in object manipulation tasks. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 10: 345–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Klatzky, R.L., and S.J. Lederman. 1995. Identifying objects from a haptic glance. Percept Psycophys 57: 1111–1123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Biddiss, E., D. Beaton, and T. Chau. 2007. Consumer design priorities for upper limb prosthetics. Disability Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology 2: 346–357.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Jiminez, M.C., and J.A. Fishel. 2014. Evaluation of force, vibration and thermal tactile feedback in prosthetic limbs. In IEEE international conference on haptic interfaces for virtual environment and teleoperator systems (Haptics), 437–441.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Fishel, J.A., and G.E. Loeb. (2012). Sensing tactile microvibrations with the BioTac—Comparison with human sensitivity. In Proceedings IEEE/RAS-EMBS international conference on biomedical robotics and biomechatronics, 1122–1127.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Tan, D.W., M.A. Schiefer, M.W. Keith, J.R. Anderson, J. Tyler, and D.J. Tyler. 2014. A neural interface provides long-term stable natural touch perception. Science Translational Medicine 6 (257): 257–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Raspopovic, S., et al. 2014. Restoring natural sensory feedback in real-time bidirectional hand prostheses. Science Translational Medicine 6, no. 222: 222ra19.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Pylatiuk, C., and A. Kargov, Schulz, S. 2006. Design and evaluation of a low-cost force feedback system for myoelectric prosthetic hands. JPO: Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics 18, no. 2: 57–61.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Antfolk, C., et al. 2012. Sensory feedback from a prosthetic hand based on air mediated pressure from the hand to the forearm skin. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine 44 (8): 702–707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Kim, K., and J.E. Colgate, Peshkin, M.A. (2007). A pilot study of a thermal display using a miniature tactor for upper extremity prosthesis. In Proceedings frontiers in the convergence of bioscience and information technologies, 531–536.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kim, K., et al. 2010. On the design of miniature haptic devices for upper extremity prosthetics. IEEE Transactions on Mechatronics 15 (1): 27–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Saunders, I., and S. Vijayakumar. 2011. The role of feed-forward and feedback processes for closed-loop prosthesis control. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 8: 60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    M. D’Alonzo, C. Cipriani, Carozza M.C. (2011). Vibrotactile sensory substitution in multifingered hand prostheses: Evaluation studies. In Proceeding ieee international conference on rehabilitation robotics rehab week, Zurich, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kim, K., and J.E. Colgate. (2012). Haptic feedback enhances grip force control of sEMG-controlled prosthetic hands in targeted reinnervation amputees. IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering 20 (6): 798–805.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Antfolk, C., et al. 2013. Transfer of tactile input from an artificial hand to the forearm: experiments in amputees and able-bodied volunteers. Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology 8 (3): 249–254.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Ajoudani, A. (2014). Exploring Teleimpedance and Tactile Feedback for Intuitive Control of the Pisa/IIT SoftHand. IEEE Transaction On Haptics 7 (2).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Kaczmarek, K.A., J.G. Webster, P. Bach-y-Rita, and W.J. Tompkins. 1991. Electrotactile and vibrotactile displays for sensory substitution systems. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering 38 (1): 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Meers, S., and K. Ward. 2004. A vision system for providing 3D perception of the environment via transcutaneous electro-neural stimulation. In Proceedings of the 8th IEEE international conference on information visualisation, London, 546–552.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Kim, G., Asakura, Y., and R. Okuno, Akazawa, K. 2005. Tactile substitution system for transmitting a few words to a prosthetic hand user. In Proceeding of the 2005 IEEE engineering in medicine and biology 27th annual conference, 6908–6911, Shanghai.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Perović, M., M. Stevanovic, T. Jevtic, M. Strbac, G. Bijelic, and C. Vucetic. 2013. Electrical stimulation of the forearm: a method for transmitting sensory signals from the artificial hand to the brain. Journal of Automatic Control, University of Belgrade 21: 13–18.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.Politeknik Negeri BatamBatamIndonesia

Personalised recommendations