Novel hardwired distributive tactile sensing system for medical applications

  • M.I. Petra

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis described the research carried out on the development of a novel hardwired tactile sensing system tailored for the application of a next generation of surgical robotic and clinical devices, namely a steerable endoscope with tactile feedback, and a surface plate for patient posture and balance. Two case studies are examined. The first is a one-dimensional sensor for the steerable endoscope retrieving shape and ‘touch’ information. The second is a two-dimensional surface which interprets the three-dimensional motion of a contacting moving load. This research can be used to retrieve information from a distributive tactile sensing surface of a different configuration, and can interpret dynamic and static disturbances. This novel approach to sensing has the potential to discriminate contact and palpation in minimal invasive surgery (MIS) tools, and posture and balance in patients. The hardwired technology uses an embedded system based on Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) as the platform to perform the sensory signal processing part in real time. High speed robust operation is an advantage from this system leading to versatile application involving dynamic real time interpretation as described in this research. In this research the sensory signal processing uses neural networks to derive information from input pattern from the contacting surface. Three neural network architectures namely single, multiple and cascaded were introduced in an attempt to find the optimum solution for discrimination of the contacting outputs. These architectures were modelled and implemented into the FPGA. With the recent introduction of modern digital design flows and synthesis tools that essentially take a high-level sensory processing behaviour specification for a design, fast prototyping of the neural network function can be achieved easily. This thesis outlines the challenge of the implementations and verifications of the performances.
Date of Award2007
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPeter N Brett (Supervisor) & David J Holding (Supervisor)


  • distributive tactile sensing
  • neural netwrok FPGA implementation
  • activation function

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