A Kinect Controlled Robotic Hand

hand

It’s that time of year again when the senior design projects come rolling in. [Ben], along with his partners [Cameron], [Carlton] and [Chris] have been working on something very ambitious since September: a robotic arm and hand controlled by a Kinect that copies the user’s movements.

The arm is a Lynxmotion AL5D, but instead of the included software suite the guys rolled their own means of controlling this arm with the help of an Arduino. The Kinect captures the user’s arm position and turns that into data for the arm’s servos.

A Kinect’s resolution is limited, of course, so for everything beyond the wrist, the team turned to another technology – flex resistors. A glove combined with these flex resistors and an accelerometer provides all the data of the position of the hand and fingers in space.

This data is sent over to another Arduino on the build for orienting the wrist and fingers of the robotic arm. As shown in the videos below, the arm performs remarkably well, just like the best Waldos you’ve ever seen.

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Virtual chess uses glove controllers

chess-using-glove-controllers

Check out the game of chess going on above. It’s a virtual game where each player uses a glove as the controller. Or course the game board and pieces are missing from this image. They’re displayed on a computer monitor which both players can see.

The hardware rather simple, and we think it would be a great project to challenge your microcontroller skills. Each glove has an accelerometer attached to it, as well as a ring of copper foil on the pointer finger and thumb. One ATmega1284 monitors both gloves. The accelerometer data is used to move the mouse cursor on the screen, while the contacts are used to grip or release a playing piece. The game board and pieces are displayed using MATLAB with controller commands fed to it via a USB connection.

If you’re more into building a mechanized game check out this pair of telepresence chess boards.

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A collection of hands to inspire your Halloween animatronics

Jump scares are a lot of fun, but if you want to hold the attention of all those trick-or-treaters we’d suggest a creepy prop. One of the best choices in that category is a ghoulishly lifelike hand. You can draw some inspiration from this roundup of robot hands which Adafruit put together.

We’ve chosen four examples for the image above but there are more to be had than just these. In the upper left there is a laser-cut acrylic hand that actually features some force sensitive resistors on the fingertips to help implement some haptic feedback. This project was inspired by the hand seen in the lower right which uses flex sensors on a glove to control the bot’s movement. If you’re looking for something more realistic the 3D printed parts on the lower left are the best bet. But if you’re looking to put something together by Halloween night the offering in the upper right is the way to go. It’s hacked together using cardboard templates to cut out plastic parts and using polymorph to form joints and brackets.

Vibrating gloves help bring back finger sensation after injury

This glove is something of a medical breakthrough. It’s used in conjunction with a musical keyboard to teach the wearer how to play simple songs. The thing is, instrumental proficiency isn’t the end goal. This is aimed at returning sensation to patients who have had a spinal cord injury. Many of the test subjects — all of which had the injuries more than a year before participating — experienced increased sensation in their hands and that is quite rare under these circumstances.

There’s not a ton of information available on the hardware itself, but this image lets us make a  pretty good guess. The glove is a typical fingerless cycling glove. There are two conductors worth of ribbon cable going to each digit. On the ring finger you can make out the bulging hardware which appears to be a vibrating cellphone motor. The white enclosure houses the microcontroller which receives wireless commands from a PC. When it is time for a finger to move, the appropriate motor vibrates. This is best explained in the clip after the break.

Apparently the combination of sensory feedback and the need to react to it provides the therapeutic impetus which achieves the promising results seen in the study.

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Sign and speak glove

This wire covered glove is capable of turning your hand gestures to speech, and it does so wirelessly. The wide range of sensors include nine flex sensors, four contact sensors, and an accelerometer. The flex sensors do most of the work, monitoring the alignment of the wearer’s finger joints. The contact sensors augment the flex sensor data, helping to differentiate between letters that have similar finger positions. The accelerometer is responsible for decoding movements that go along with the hand positions. They combine to detect all of the letters in the American Sign Language alphabet.

An ATmega644 monitors all of the sensors, and pushes data out through a wireless transmitter. MATLAB is responsible for collecting the data which is coming in over the wireless link. It saves it for later analysis using a Java program. Once the motions have been decoded into letters, they are assembled into sentences and fed into a text-to-speech program.

You’ve probably already guess that there’s a demo video after the break.

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Glove-based touch screen from a CRT monitor

Here’s a bulky old CRT monitor used as a touch-screen without any alterations. It doesn’t use an overlay, but instead detects position using phototransistors in the fingertips of a glove.

Most LCD-based touch screens use some type overlay, like these resistive sensors. But cathode-ray-tube monitors function in a fundamentally different way from LCD screens, using an electron gun and ring of magnets to direct a beam across the screen. The inside of the screen is coated with phosphors which glow when excited by electrons. This project harness that property, using a photo transistor in both the pointer and middle finger of the glove. An FPGA drives the monitor and reads from the sensors. It can extrapolate the position of the phototransistors on the display based on the passing electron beam, and use that as cursor data.

Check out the video after the break to see this in action. It’s fairy accurate, but we’re sure the system can be tightened up a bit from this first prototype. There developers also mention that the system has a bit of trouble with darker shades.

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Wireless MIDI piano glove

Sometimes you just don’t have space for a baby grand. [Abdullah] got around this problem and built a virtual wireless MIDI piano. Unlike it’s inspiration, it’s not bad but we still love it.

[Abdullah] got his hands on some flex sensors and attached them to a glove. These resistive sensors are put through a voltage divider and sent to a microcontroller (a PIC16F778, we believe) and corresponding MIDI notes are chosen. These MIDI notes are sent to a computer and played over a speaker.

Right now, only a single arpeggio is coded into the microcontroller. Depending on which finger is bent shifts this arpeggio up and down the keyboard. That being said, the firmware can be easily modified to recognize standard piano fingering so chords can be played. The only issue is moving the hand up and down the keyboard.

[Abdullah] is planning on making his glove completely wireless with a microcontroller and battery sewn into the glove. Here’s to hoping he’ll keep us posted.

Check out [Abdullah]‘s demo after the break.

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