Mechatronics is an interdisciplinary field of study, combining aspects of mechanical, electrical and robotic engineering. This integrative field involves designing, engineering and building systems that can achieve goals normal machines can’t. Some examples of these are autonomous robots that can perceive their surroundings and function from the information received from sensors, and machines that can communicate with each other to fulfil a greater goal.
Being able to link the movements of our hands and fingers with the movement of a motor is only one way wearable technology can be applied. Imagine the various functions and tasks that can be achieved through reprogramming wearable technology to control other mechanisms. The possibilities are limitless. With the ever-advancing technology of our world, this kind of integrated system is only the tip of the iceberg.
Gestures: Flex sensors
The gestures available through the flex sensors are the bending and straightening of the finger.
The flex sensor will be attached over your finger. As you bend and straighten your finger, the resistance of the flex sensor will change and therefore, through a simple circuit, the output voltage from the circuit can be made so it is dependent on the resistance of the flex sensor.
More bending will result in a lower resistance and therefore a higher output voltage value while the straightened state will result in a higher resistance and therefore a lower voltage value.
Through the RasPi module, this information can be manipulated to lead to different motor spinning speeds.
The accelerometer is able to detect acceleration in 3 axes. Therefore, a wide variety of gestures is possible. But for the purposes of simpler gestures, only one axis was used. This axis is the Horizontal X-axis, or horizontal tilt of the hand from the user’s perspective.
In a robot demonstration where the wheels are capable of causing the robot to turn direction, a tilt to the right would cause a change in direction to the right whereas a tilt to the left would cause a change in direction to the left. Of course these gestures are independent of the fingers and therefore can be combined with finger gestures to accommodate both speed and direction.
More advanced gestures utilizing more axes can be implemented for a wider range of functions.
Wearable technology in the Future
Wearable technology has been around for many decades. From smartwatches to glasses to even smart clothing, more and more products are being advanced and invented. Undoubtedly, the growth in this area of technology and field of study will not stop any time soon.
Having technology that is accessible and easy to use around your body would make it very convenient for humans to use machines and systems that require human control input. Instead of entering a direction onto a computer and sending it to the machine, a simple gesture or a press of an easily accessible button would make control processes much simpler and efficient.
Wearable technology is relevant in our world today because of its functionality in many aspects of human life. Two prominent examples are health and sports. Having technology that can monitor your health and current state and report back the information to you in a compact and easily understandable format would be extremely useful.
All in all, wearable technology is a rapidly growing area of technology that may provide human life with many significant benefits. Its relevance and importance will carry on into the future. Therefore it is crucial that humans keep advancing and improving upon these systems.
In this work, Jang Yeon focuses on two aspects of mechatronic engineering: wearable technology and robotics. I aim to build a system where the speed and direction of a robot with wheels can be controlled through a glove that incorporates flex sensors and an accelerometer.
Wireless Glove Control