Glove with versatile operation tools based on dielectric elastomer sensors
A wearable glove equipped with various types of dielectric elastomer sensors is described. The capacitive flexible sensors serve for different technical operation functions controlled by defined finger actions. A first type is a pressure sensor located at the thumb of the glove. The applied pressure of the thumb on another finger can tune a technical function. By operating a contact sensor, the adjusted value can be frozen. Contact sensors detect the touch between different fingers. In contrast to other proximity sensors, the electrodes are distributed on two fingers. The approach of one finger to another one increases the capacitance between the electrodes. This sensor type can be used for switches to trigger a technical function such as activation or deactivation. A third sensor type consists of three electrodes where two electrodes are located on one finger and the third electrode is located on another finger. Sliding the second finger on the first finger causes an increase or decrease of two capacitances depending on the relative position of the third electrode in relation to the first two electrodes. This sensor can be used as a slider for tuning a technical function such as brightness or loudness. An advanced version of this sensor is a combination of four electrodes on one finger and a fifth electrode on a second finger. Here, the sliding of the fifth electrode on the other four electrodes changes four capacitances. This configuration works as a two-dimensional slider similar to a computer mouse to control a cursor on a screen. All capacitive sensors are manufactured with silicone elastomer components, where the electrodes contain carbon black particles to become conductive. The sensors are integrated in the fabric of a glove. In addition, the glove is equipped with an electronic compartment containing a microprocessor to measure and process the sensor capacitances. The data is transmitted wirelessly to a personal computer, where the status of the sensors can be demonstrated graphically. The paper shows some examples of finger actions and the corresponding reactions of the sensors.