Control a robotic arm with force-sensitive hand gestures


Maker manipulates a robotic arm with pressure-based hand gestures on the Sensel Morph. 


Ray Kampmeier recently finished a project that enabled him to manipulate a robotic arm using force-sensitive, five-finger hand gestures. To accomplish this, the self-proclaimed hobbyist employed a MeArm, an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), four servo motors, and a servo shield to control the mechanism.

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Sensel’s soon-to-be-released touch interface — the Morph — is used to command the robotic arm in four different ways: force down, rotation, pinch and forward/backward. For example, placing five contact points down and twisting the wrist will rotate the base, applying pressure on four fingertips will raise and lower the arm, while moving along its XY axes will extend and retract it. What’s more, Kampmeier reveals that pinching all five fingertips together on the center of the touchpad will cause its attached claw to close.

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“Without the force sensitivity, I don’t think it would have been as magical of an experience for me to control the robot arm . It would have been a pretty binary detection of force — you have applied force and you have not-applied force. In this device, there’s a very robust range of force sensing. That level of control, and seeing that in the robot arm, gives a magical sense of feedback,” the Maker adds.

Intrigued? Kampmeier has made all of the code available on GitHub. While this may be a simple example of Sensel’s latest technology, it’ll certainly be exciting to see what the future has in store once the Maker community gets their hands on the interface. They won’t have to wait too long, as the Bay Area startup is planning to launch a Kickstarter campaign at the end of August. Until then, watch the project in action below!

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