A tactile sensing array emplying optical fibers has been constructed and tested. The sensor is composed of two layers of optical fibers, oriented at right angles to each other, and overlaid by an elastomer sheet. Fibers in the upper layer are illuminated individually. Total internal reflection is violated by pressure-induced contact between the elastomer and the upper fiber layer. Scattered light is collected by fibers in the lower layer, resultin gin a matrix of tactile pressure readings.
The sensor concept was verified, and recognizable tactile images were generated for simple objects. An analysis was amde of the characteristics of the tactile images produced, which yielded insights into ways to improve the iamge quality.
Some additional experiments have been performed that relate to fabrication o fa tactile sensor which uses violation of total internal refraction in a ribbon of fine optical fibers, measuring tactile pressure by loss of light from one end of the fiber to the other, and using individual fibers to map to particular points in a tactile matrix.