Flexible Angle Sensors: New Sensors to Watch Out For

Technical equipment and machinery have been using different position sensors. They prevent mishaps, measure distances, and help in remote control of tools. One of these position sensors is the angle sensor. Angle sensors are made to calculate an object’s specific orientation vis-a-vis its reference position. Also known as angular position sensors, they can be found in robotics, industrial machinery, and automobiles. There is a wide array of other uses of angle sensors. And a flexible angle sensor is one of the most versatile angle sensors used nowadays.

What is a flexible angle sensor?

Flexible angle sensors, created by European scientists, are sensors that are highly recommended to measure an angle between two segments when the instantaneous centre of rotation is not clearly defined or is moving during the rotation. Measurement with this is made possible by obtaining the longitudinal displacement of two parallel wires bent in the plane of rotation. This idea yields angle values almost independently of the path of the still part of the sensor. In its first version, a precision of ±2° was measured, and the temperature dependence was less than 0.2° C; hence, allowing angular measurement without environmental disruption. The simplicity of its design induces ease of building, low cost, and sturdiness. The sensor is also small, and can easily be fastened on a leg, for example.

How is it applied?

Traditionally, biomechanical applications use these position sensors. Examples include measuring knee rotation during walking, sitting or standing. Currently, flexible angle sensors can be worn, allowing for a more accurate measurement, description, and assessment of quantities that characterise human locomotion. Motion sensors are worn or attached to various parts of the patient’s body, such as the feet and waist. These sensors, primarily flexible angle sensors, can measure the angular velocity and angle of feet or legs during movement. This mechanism is made possible by using a sensing fabric, a flexible sensor, and adhesives. With these wearable, flexible angle sensors, the performance of athletes has been improved, the rehabilitation of physically challenged individuals has become more manageable, and the estimation of fall risks of people have become more accurately calculated.

Additionally, new developments have shown that these sensors can also be used to determine the accurate position and control of large-scale soft robots. Soft robots provide a solution to using robots in unpredictable or unmodeled environments that rigid robots usually do not adapt to very well. Flexible angle sensors improve control for robots whose forward movements may be uncertain or may change regularly.

The myriad of uses of flexible angle sensors expands the already seen diversity of the functions of angle sensors as position sensors. Angle sensors can now be worn and be used in biomechanical and robotic studies, such as in measuring joint movement and in finely controlling soft robots. If explored more, flexible angle sensors can be of greater use in other fields of science.

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