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Addressing the challenges posed by human machine interfaces based on force sensitive resistors for powered prostheses

Thesis type
(Thesis) Ph.D.
Date created
Despite the advancements in the mechatronics aspect of prosthetic devices, prostheses control still lacks an interface that satisfies the needs of the majority of users. The research community has put great effort into the advancements of prostheses control techniques to address users' needs. However, most of these efforts are focused on the development and assessment of technologies in the controlled environments of laboratories. Such findings do not fully transfer to the daily application of prosthetic systems. The objectives of this thesis focus on factors that affect the use of Force Myography (FMG) controlled prostheses in practical scenarios. The first objective of this thesis assessed the use of FMG as an alternative or synergist Human Machine Interface (HMI) to the more traditional HMI, i.e. surface Electromyography (sEMG). The assessment for this study was conducted in conditions that are relatively close to the real use case of prosthetic applications. The HMI was embedded in the custom prosthetic prototype that was developed for the pilot participant of the study using an off-the-shelf prosthetic end effector. Moreover, prostheses control was assessed as the user moved their limb in a dynamic protocol.The results of the aforementioned study motivated the second objective of this thesis: to investigate the possibility of reducing the complexity of high density FMG systems without sacrificing classification accuracies. This was achieved through a design method that uses a high density FMG apparatus and feature selection to determine the number and location of sensors that can be eliminated without significantly sacrificing the system's performance. The third objective of this thesis investigated two of the factors that contribute to increased errors in force sensitive resistor (FSR) signals used in FMG controlled prostheses: bending of force sensors and variations in the volume of the residual limb. Two studies were conducted that proposed solutions to mitigate the negative impact of these factors. The incorporation of these solutions into prosthetic devices is discussed in these studies.It was demonstrated that FMG is a promising HMI for prostheses control. The facilitation of pattern recognition with FMG showed potential for intuitive prosthetic control. Moreover, a method for the design of a system that can determine the required number of sensors and their locations on each individual to achieve a simpler system with comparable performance to high density FMG systems was proposed and tested. The effects of the two factors considered in the third objective were determined. It was also demonstrated that the proposed solutions in the studies conducted for this objective can be used to increase the accuracy of signals that are commonly used in FMG controlled prostheses.
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This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Menon, Carlo
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