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Sensors 2016, 16(7), 961; doi:10.3390/s16070961

A Novel Low-Cost, Large Curvature Bend Sensor Based on a Bowden-Cable

School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering/IAMD, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vittorio M. N. Passaro
Received: 12 May 2016 / Revised: 14 June 2016 / Accepted: 20 June 2016 / Published: 24 June 2016
(This article belongs to the Section Physical Sensors)


Bend sensors have been developed based on conductive ink, optical fiber, and electronic textiles. Each type has advantages and disadvantages in terms of performance, ease of use, and cost. This study proposes a new and low-cost bend sensor that can measure a wide range of accumulated bend angles with large curvatures. This bend sensor utilizes a Bowden-cable, which consists of a coil sheath and an inner wire. Displacement changes of the Bowden-cable’s inner wire, when the shape of the sheath changes, have been considered to be a position error in previous studies. However, this study takes advantage of this position error to detect the bend angle of the sheath. The bend angle of the sensor can be calculated from the displacement measurement of the sensing wire using a Hall-effect sensor or a potentiometer. Simulations and experiments have shown that the accumulated bend angle of the sensor is linearly related to the sensor signal, with an R-square value up to 0.9969 and a root mean square error of 2% of the full sensing range. The proposed sensor is not affected by a bend curvature of up to 80.0 m−1, unlike previous bend sensors. The proposed sensor is expected to be useful for various applications, including motion capture devices, wearable robots, surgical devices, or generally any device that requires an affordable and low-cost bend sensor. View Full-Text
Keywords: bend sensor; flexible sensor; shape sensor; bend measurement; low-cost sensor; Bowden-cable; cable conduit bend sensor; flexible sensor; shape sensor; bend measurement; low-cost sensor; Bowden-cable; cable conduit

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Jeong, U.; Cho, K.-J. A Novel Low-Cost, Large Curvature Bend Sensor Based on a Bowden-Cable. Sensors 2016, 16, 961.

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