Flexing Success!

I was finally able to build my own Flex sensor at home, at a fraction of the price of commercially available ones. I quickly began developing the FlexSure gloves with which I intend to develop a physical-digital user interface that can provide real-time motion data and the corresponding actions for various uses.

FlexSure gloves I am developing

I created the homemade flex sensors using a few readily available household materials, and a very special conducting foam, which I went to great lengths to find in Bangalore, although it was abundantly available on American websites.

Each electrode is based on a thin, long piece of plastic. This I took from the front of a discarded toy package. To this plastic I super-glued an insulated wire, using the rubber epoxy FeviKwik to make sure it stays while I cover it. I used a thin strip of Aluminium foil to cover the wire, making sure that conductivity was maintained by using a multimeter to check for connectivity on one side of the wire and the top of the Aluminium electrode.

I took a strip of tape slightly longer than the electrode, and another piece of plastic of the same size, so as to give the sensor some stiffness. I used the conducting foam in the middle, to form a sandwich, and then completed the sensor with the other electrode and another strip of tape.

The sensor had a resistance of nearly 200-500 kilo-ohm when relaxed, and drops to around 100 ohms when fully bent or compressed. I used it in parallel with one resistor in a twin resistive divider, and used an Arduino to read the voltage at the center pin, and print to Serial when it went below a certain threshold.

Future plans are to implement realtime glove status, finger sequence recognition, and sign language recognition. This project is going in the direction of some of Johnny Lee’s and Pranav Mistry’s most famous and popular works, and I am enjoying every bit of it!


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