A flexible high-resolution sensor capable of measuring the distribution of pressure beneath the foot via a microfabricated optical waveguide system is presented. The uniqueness of the system is in its batch fabrication process, which involves a microfabrication molding technique with polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) as the optical medium. The sensor manufacturing technique is described in detail, the optical performance of the waveguides is quantified and the effect of using a matching fluid to improve fiber-coupling efficiency is demonstrated. Mechanical loading tests were performed on a 4 × 4 array with a 2-mm spacing between sensing elements. Loading displacement curves were obtained using a 0 to 0.4 mm triangle loading profile. A force of 0.28 N applied to one of the sensing elements produced a displacement of a 0.325 mm and 39% change in the output light intensity. Multiple loadings were conducted to demonstrate the repeatability of the sensor. A force image algorithm with a two-layer neural network system was used to identify four load magnitudes and four different shaped applicators. All four shapes were successfully identified with the neural network.
- Distributive mechanical sensor
- Macrobend sensor
- Neural network
- Polymeric waveguide
- Pressure sensor