Electronic Design

Taking A Hand At Robot Control

Tele-operated and semi-autonomous robots are often handled by conventional joysticks and mice. This is fine for rolling robots with two degrees of freedom. But higher-complexity robots capable of more varied movements have led to everything from 3D mice to thought control (brainwaves), though that has yet to be used for precise control.

The AcceleGlove from AnthroTronix uses Freescale’s 3D microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) accelerometers (see the figure). There’s one accelerometer on each finger plus another on the hand and wrist. It can recognize sign language. Also, it doesn’t require any setup or registration. The analog accelerometers measure data with a sensitivity of 0.0287 m/s2.

“Some designers prefer the analog version because they can use higher-resolution ADCs (analog-to-digital converters), although the new digital accelerometers are easier to interface,” says Freescale field app engineer Mark Diperri. The on-board microcontroller features a maximum sampling rate of 35 Hz (630 axes per second) with 10-bit ADC resolution for each axis. Power and communication with the host PC is handled via USB.

The AcceleGlove costs $499. It includes a software development kit for Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS X (10.4 or higher, Intel-based), and Linux (Kernel 2.6.9 or higher). And, of course, it comes in small, medium, and large for left or right hands. Like the first Ford, it comes in black.

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