Wearable Sensorimotor Enhancer for a Fingertip based on Stochastic Resonance
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This paper reports the initial experimental results of a wearable sensorimotor enhancer for a fingertip. A shorttime exposure of tactile receptors to sub-sensory white-noise vibration is known to improve the tactile sensitivity. This phenomenon, called “noise-enhanced tactile sensation” or stochastic resonance (SR) in the somatosensory system, is expected to enhance the sense of touch when white-noise vibration is applied to a fingertip, and thereby improve associated motor skills. A prototype sensorimotor enhancer has been developed in this research. This wearable device is to stimulate tactile receptors by applying vibration from a compact lead zirconate titanate (PZT) piezoelectric stack actuator attached at the radial side of the fingertip. This design keeps the palmar region free and maintains the wearer’s manipulability. Sensory and motor tests have been conducted for health subjects to confirm the efficacy of the device. Statistical significance has been observed in most of the tests.