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Effect of contacting surface on the performance of thin-film force and pressure sensors

Ka Po Maggie TangKit Lun Yick*Pui Ling LiJoanne YipKing Hei OrKam Hong Chau

Flexible force and pressure sensors are important for assessing the wear comfort of tightly fitting apparel. Their accuracy and repeatability depend on the sensor itself and the contacting surface. Measurements of the contact pressure on soft surfaces like human skin tend to be erroneous, which could be due to incorrect sensor calibrations. This study aims to examine the effects of human body parameters such as the hardness and temperature of the contacting surface by using a custom-made calibration setup and investigating the incorporation of rigid discs on the sensor surface. Two commercial force sensors, FlexiForce and SingleTact, and one pressure sensor, Pliance X, are used in the investigation. The findings reveal that adding rigid discs on both sides of the force sensors improves their sensitivity. Systematic calibration has been performed on the surfaces with different temperatures and hardness. The results show that FlexiForce and Pliance X tend to be affected by the changes in surface temperature and surface hardness. Prolonged testing time shows that the time dependence of SingleTact and Pliance X sensor is lower, which suggests that they are more suitable for lengthier evaluations in which interface pressure is exerted on the human body. In brief, sensor attachment and proper calibration should be thoroughly considered before using sensors for applications on soft surfaces, like the human body.