Special Issue "Wearable Electronics and Embedded Computing Systems for Biomedical Applications"

A special issue of Electronics (ISSN 2079-9292). This special issue belongs to the section "Bioelectronics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (18 June 2016).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Enzo Pasquale Scilingo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Information Engineering, School of Engineering, University of Pisa, Largo Lucio Lazzarino, Pisa 1 56122, Italy
Tel. 050-2217055; Fax: 050-2217051
Interests: wearable monitoring systems; heart rate variability; human–computer interfaces; biomedical and biomechanical signal processing; modeling; control and instrumentation; autonomic nervous system
Dr. Gaetano Valenza
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Information Engineering, School of Engineering, University of Pisa, Largo Lucio Lazzarino, 1 56122 Pisa, Italy
Interests: wearable monitoring systems; heart rate variability; nonlinear analysis; Autonomic Nervous Systems; biomedical signal processing

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Wearable electronics and embedded computing systems have been gaining a great deal of interest over the last two decades in research and commercial fields, with a special focus on biomedical applications. The key benefits introduced by these systems include their small size, lightweight, low-power consumption, and, of course, wearability. Major human-centered applications are related to medicine enabling outpatient care and enhancing the quality of life for chronic disease patients, maybe preventing unnecessary hospitalizations. These technological avenues can indeed be cost effective and provide the doctors with more accurate and reliable data.

Exemplary engineering contribution has been focusing on developing innovative sensing platforms adaptable to different environments and user needs, smart textile technology, miniaturized electronics and sensors, energy harvesting, wireless body area networks, and so on. This has provided the possibility of gathering information in several scenarios, such as during daily activities or sleep, during specific tasks, at home, in the lab, and in the clinic, in the form of physiological signals.

We invite researchers to submit cutting-edge research articles, as well as reviews and tutorials, describing and assessing wearable devices, or proposing novel wearable sensors, computational efficient algorithms for physiological signal processing through embedded computing, collection of environmental/behavioral/psychological data, data fusion, detection and quantification of symptoms, decision support for the medical doctors, and communication of the patient with the doctor.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Innovative wearable sensing platforms and body area networks
  • Smart textile technology
  • Wearable systems in healthcare
  • Continuous sleep monitor and evaluation
  • Embedded signal processing
  • Computationally efficient nonlinear digital signal processing
  • Data fusion for embedded computing systems
  • Smart telemonitoring systems
  • Heart rate monitoring and related embedded computing
  • Wearable biomedical electronics, computer and information technology
  • Wireless and mobile communications in biomedical systems

Prof. Dr. Enzo Pasquale Scilingo
Dr. Gaetano Valenza
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Published Papers (15 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Recent Advances on Wearable Electronics and Embedded Computing Systems for Biomedical Applications
Electronics 2017, 6(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics6010012 - 24 Jan 2017
Cited by 5
Abstract
The application of wearable electronics in the biomedical research and commercial fields has been gaining great interest over the last several decades.[...] Full article

Research

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Open AccessArticle
Assessment of a Smart Sensing Shoe for Gait Phase Detection in Level Walking
Electronics 2016, 5(4), 78; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics5040078 - 16 Nov 2016
Cited by 10
Abstract
Gait analysis and more specifically ambulatory monitoring of temporal and spatial gait parameters may open relevant fields of applications in activity tracking, sports and also in the assessment and treatment of specific diseases. Wearable technology can boost this scenario by spreading the adoption [...] Read more.
Gait analysis and more specifically ambulatory monitoring of temporal and spatial gait parameters may open relevant fields of applications in activity tracking, sports and also in the assessment and treatment of specific diseases. Wearable technology can boost this scenario by spreading the adoption of monitoring systems to a wide set of healthy users or patients. In this context, we assessed a recently developed commercial smart shoe—the FootMoov—for automatic gait phase detection in level walking. FootMoov has built-in force sensors and a triaxial accelerometer and is able to transmit the sensor data to the smartphone through a wireless connection. We developed a dedicated gait phase detection algorithm relying both on force and inertial information. We tested the smart shoe on ten healthy subjects in free level walking conditions and in a laboratory setting in comparison with an optical motion capture system. Results confirmed a reliable detection of the gait phases. The maximum error committed, on the order of 44.7 ms, is comparable with previous studies. Our results confirmed the possibility to exploit consumer wearable devices to extract relevant parameters to improve the subject health or to better manage his/her progressions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Novel 12-Lead ECG T-Shirt with Active Electrodes
Electronics 2016, 5(4), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics5040075 - 08 Nov 2016
Cited by 11
Abstract
We developed an ECG T-shirt with a portable recorder for unobtrusive and long-term multichannel ECG monitoring with active electrodes. A major drawback of conventional 12-lead ECGs is the use of adhesive gel electrodes, which are uncomfortable during long-term application and may even cause [...] Read more.
We developed an ECG T-shirt with a portable recorder for unobtrusive and long-term multichannel ECG monitoring with active electrodes. A major drawback of conventional 12-lead ECGs is the use of adhesive gel electrodes, which are uncomfortable during long-term application and may even cause skin irritations and allergic reactions. Therefore, we integrated comfortable patches of conductive textile into the ECG T-shirt in order to replace the adhesive gel electrodes. In order to prevent signal deterioration, as reported for other textile ECG systems, we attached active circuits on the outside of the T-shirt to further improve the signal quality of the dry electrodes. Finally, we validated the ECG T-shirt against a commercial Holter ECG with healthy volunteers during phases of lying down, sitting, and walking. The 12-lead ECG was successfully recorded with a resulting mean relative error of the RR intervals of 0.96% and mean coverage of 96.6%. Furthermore, the ECG waves of the 12 leads were analyzed separately and showed high accordance. The P-wave had a correlation of 0.703 for walking subjects, while the T-wave demonstrated lower correlations for all three scenarios (lying: 0.817, sitting: 0.710, walking: 0.403). The other correlations for the P, Q, R, and S-waves were all higher than 0.9. This work demonstrates that our ECG T-shirt is suitable for 12-lead ECG recordings while providing a higher level of comfort compared with a commercial Holter ECG. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Pulsed Coding Technique Based on Optical UWB Modulation for High Data Rate Low Power Wireless Implantable Biotelemetry
Electronics 2016, 5(4), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics5040069 - 17 Oct 2016
Cited by 4
Abstract
This paper reports on a pulsed coding technique based on optical Ultra-wideband (UWB) modulation for wireless implantable biotelemetry systems allowing for high data rate link whilst enabling significant power reduction compared to the state-of-the-art. This optical data coding approach is suitable for emerging [...] Read more.
This paper reports on a pulsed coding technique based on optical Ultra-wideband (UWB) modulation for wireless implantable biotelemetry systems allowing for high data rate link whilst enabling significant power reduction compared to the state-of-the-art. This optical data coding approach is suitable for emerging biomedical applications like transcutaneous neural wireless communication systems. The overall architecture implementing this optical modulation technique employs sub-nanosecond pulsed laser as the data transmitter and small sensitive area photodiode as the data receiver. Moreover, it includes coding and decoding digital systems, biasing and driving analogue circuits for laser pulse generation and photodiode signal conditioning. The complete system has been implemented on Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) and prototype Printed Circuit Board (PCB) with discrete off-the-shelf components. By inserting a diffuser between the transmitter and the receiver to emulate skin/tissue, the system is capable to achieve a 128 Mbps data rate with a bit error rate less than 10−9 and an estimated total power consumption of about 5 mW corresponding to a power efficiency of 35.9 pJ/bit. These results could allow, for example, the transmission of an 800-channel neural recording interface sampled at 16 kHz with 10-bit resolution. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Wearable System for the Evaluation of the Human-Horse Interaction: A Preliminary Study
Electronics 2016, 5(4), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics5040063 - 26 Sep 2016
Cited by 8
Abstract
This study reports on a preliminary estimation of the human-horse interaction through the analysis of the heart rate variability (HRV) in both human and animal by using the dynamic time warping (DTW) algorithm. Here, we present a wearable system for HRV monitoring in [...] Read more.
This study reports on a preliminary estimation of the human-horse interaction through the analysis of the heart rate variability (HRV) in both human and animal by using the dynamic time warping (DTW) algorithm. Here, we present a wearable system for HRV monitoring in horses. Specifically, we first present a validation of a wearable electrocardiographic (ECG) monitoring system for horses in terms of comfort and robustness, then we introduce a preliminary objective estimation of the human-horse interaction. The performance of the proposed wearable system for horses was compared with a standard system in terms of movement artifact (MA) percentage. Seven healthy horses were monitored without any movement constraints. As a result, the lower amount of MA% of the wearable system suggests that it could be profitably used for reliable measurement of physiological parameters related to the autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity in horses, such as the HRV. Human-horse interaction estimation was achieved through the analysis of their HRV time series. Specifically, DTW was applied to estimate dynamic coupling between human and horse in a group of fourteen human subjects and one horse. Moreover, a support vector machine (SVM) classifier was able to recognize the three classes of interaction with an accuracy greater than 78%. Preliminary significant results showed the discrimination of three distinct real human-animal interaction levels. These results open the measurement and characterization of the already empirically-proven relationship between human and horse. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Automatic Measurement of Chew Count and Chewing Rate during Food Intake
Electronics 2016, 5(4), 62; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics5040062 - 23 Sep 2016
Cited by 11
Abstract
Research suggests that there might be a relationship between chew count as well as chewing rate and energy intake. Chewing has been used in wearable sensor systems for the automatic detection of food intake, but little work has been reported on the automatic [...] Read more.
Research suggests that there might be a relationship between chew count as well as chewing rate and energy intake. Chewing has been used in wearable sensor systems for the automatic detection of food intake, but little work has been reported on the automatic measurement of chew count or chewing rate. This work presents a method for the automatic quantification of chewing episodes captured by a piezoelectric sensor system. The proposed method was tested on 120 meals from 30 participants using two approaches. In a semi-automatic approach, histogram-based peak detection was used to count the number of chews in manually annotated chewing segments, resulting in a mean absolute error of 10.40 % ± 7.03%. In a fully automatic approach, automatic food intake recognition preceded the application of the chew counting algorithm. The sensor signal was divided into 5-s non-overlapping epochs. Leave-one-out cross-validation was used to train a artificial neural network (ANN) to classify epochs as “food intake” or “no intake” with an average F1 score of 91.09%. Chews were counted in epochs classified as food intake with a mean absolute error of 15.01% ± 11.06%. The proposed methods were compared with manual chew counts using an analysis of variance (ANOVA), which showed no statistically significant difference between the two methods. Results suggest that the proposed method can provide objective and automatic quantification of eating behavior in terms of chew counts and chewing rates. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Robust and Accurate Algorithm for Wearable Stereoscopic Augmented Reality with Three Indistinguishable Markers
Electronics 2016, 5(3), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics5030059 - 19 Sep 2016
Cited by 14
Abstract
In the context of surgical navigation systems based on augmented reality (AR), the key challenge is to ensure the highest degree of realism in merging computer-generated elements with live views of the surgical scene. This paper presents an algorithm suited for wearable stereoscopic [...] Read more.
In the context of surgical navigation systems based on augmented reality (AR), the key challenge is to ensure the highest degree of realism in merging computer-generated elements with live views of the surgical scene. This paper presents an algorithm suited for wearable stereoscopic augmented reality video see-through systems for use in a clinical scenario. A video-based tracking solution is proposed that relies on stereo localization of three monochromatic markers rigidly constrained to the scene. A PnP-based optimization step is introduced to refine separately the pose of the two cameras. Video-based tracking methods using monochromatic markers are robust to non-controllable and/or inconsistent lighting conditions. The two-stage camera pose estimation algorithm provides sub-pixel registration accuracy. From a technological and an ergonomic standpoint, the proposed approach represents an effective solution to the implementation of wearable AR-based surgical navigation systems wherever rigid anatomies are involved. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Miniaturized Blood Pressure Telemetry System with RFID Interface
Electronics 2016, 5(3), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics5030051 - 30 Aug 2016
Cited by 4
Abstract
This work deals with the development and characterization of a potentially implantable blood pressure telemetry system, based on an active Radio-Frequency IDentification (RFID) tag, International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 15693 compliant. This approach aims to continuously measure the average, systolic and diastolic blood [...] Read more.
This work deals with the development and characterization of a potentially implantable blood pressure telemetry system, based on an active Radio-Frequency IDentification (RFID) tag, International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 15693 compliant. This approach aims to continuously measure the average, systolic and diastolic blood pressure of the small/medium animals. The measured pressure wave undergoes embedded processing and results are stored onboard in a non-volatile memory, providing the data under interrogation by an external RFID reader. In order to extend battery lifetime, RFID energy harvesting has been investigated. The paper presents the experimental characterization in a laboratory and preliminary in-vivo tests. The device is a prototype mainly intended, in a future engineered version, for monitoring freely moving test animals for pharmaceutical research and drug safety assessment purposes, but it could have multiple uses in environmental and industrial applications. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
An Embedded Sensing and Communication Platform, and a Healthcare Model for Remote Monitoring of Chronic Diseases
Electronics 2016, 5(3), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics5030047 - 04 Aug 2016
Cited by 9
Abstract
This paper presents a new remote healthcare model, which, exploiting wireless biomedical sensors, an embedded local unit (gateway) for sensor data acquisition-processing-communication, and a remote e-Health service center, can be scaled in different telemedicine scenarios. The aim is avoiding hospitalization cost and long [...] Read more.
This paper presents a new remote healthcare model, which, exploiting wireless biomedical sensors, an embedded local unit (gateway) for sensor data acquisition-processing-communication, and a remote e-Health service center, can be scaled in different telemedicine scenarios. The aim is avoiding hospitalization cost and long waiting lists for patients affected by chronic illness who need continuous and long-term monitoring of some vital parameters. In the “1:1” scenario, the patient has a set of biomedical sensors and a gateway to exchange data and healthcare protocols with the remote service center. In the “1:N” scenario the use of gateway and sensors is managed by a professional caregiver, e.g., assigned by the Public Health System to a number N of different patients. In the “point of care” scenario the patient, instead of being hospitalized, can take the needed measurements at a specific health corner, which is then connected to the remote e-Health center. A mix of commercially available sensors and new custom-designed ones is presented. The new custom-designed sensors range from a single-lead electrocardiograph for easy measurements taken by the patients at their home, to a multi-channel biomedical integrated circuit for acquisition of multi-channel bio signals, to a new motion sensor for patient posture estimation and fall detection. Experimental trials in real-world telemedicine applications assess the proposed system in terms of easy usability from patients, specialist and family doctors, and caregivers, in terms of scalability in different scenarios, and in terms of suitability for implementation of needed care plans. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Skin Admittance Measurement for Emotion Recognition: A Study over Frequency Sweep
Electronics 2016, 5(3), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics5030046 - 04 Aug 2016
Cited by 16
Abstract
The electrodermal activity (EDA) is a reliable physiological signal for monitoring the sympathetic nervous system. Several studies have demonstrated that EDA can be a source of effective markers for the assessment of emotional states in humans. There are two main methods for measuring [...] Read more.
The electrodermal activity (EDA) is a reliable physiological signal for monitoring the sympathetic nervous system. Several studies have demonstrated that EDA can be a source of effective markers for the assessment of emotional states in humans. There are two main methods for measuring EDA: endosomatic (internal electrical source) and exosomatic (external electrical source). Even though the exosomatic approach is the most widely used, differences between alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC) methods and their implication in the emotional assessment field have not yet been deeply investigated. This paper aims at investigating how the admittance contribution of EDA, studied at different frequency sources, affects the EDA statistical power in inferring on the subject’s arousing level (neutral or aroused). To this extent, 40 healthy subjects underwent visual affective elicitations, including neutral and arousing levels, while EDA was gathered through DC and AC sources from 0 to 1 kHz. Results concern the accuracy of an automatic, EDA feature-based arousal recognition system for each frequency source. We show how the frequency of the external electrical source affects the accuracy of arousal recognition. This suggests a role of skin susceptance in the study of affective stimuli through electrodermal response. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
A Multi-Modal Sensing Glove for Human Manual-Interaction Studies
Electronics 2016, 5(3), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics5030042 - 20 Jul 2016
Cited by 12
Abstract
We present an integrated sensing glove that combines two of the most visionary wearable sensing technologies to provide both hand posture sensing and tactile pressure sensing in a unique, lightweight, and stretchable device. Namely, hand posture reconstruction employs Knitted Piezoresistive Fabrics that allows [...] Read more.
We present an integrated sensing glove that combines two of the most visionary wearable sensing technologies to provide both hand posture sensing and tactile pressure sensing in a unique, lightweight, and stretchable device. Namely, hand posture reconstruction employs Knitted Piezoresistive Fabrics that allows us to measure bending. From only five of these sensors (one for each finger) the full hand pose of a 19 degrees of freedom (DOF) hand model is reconstructed leveraging optimal sensor placement and estimation techniques. To this end, we exploit a-priori information of synergistic coordination patterns in grasping tasks. Tactile sensing employs a piezoresistive fabric allowing us to measure normal forces in more than 50 taxels spread over the palmar surface of the glove. We describe both sensing technologies, report on the software integration of both modalities, and describe a preliminary evaluation experiment analyzing hand postures and force patterns during grasping. Results of the reconstruction are promising and encourage us to push further our approach with potential applications in neuroscience, virtual reality, robotics and tele-operation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Galvanic Coupling Method for Assessing Hydration Rates
Electronics 2016, 5(3), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics5030039 - 13 Jul 2016
Cited by 8
Abstract
Recent advances in biomedical sensors, data acquisition techniques, microelectronics and wireless communication systems opened up the use of wearable technology for ehealth monitoring. We introduce a galvanic coupled intrabody communication for monitoring human body hydration. Studies in hydration provide the information necessary for [...] Read more.
Recent advances in biomedical sensors, data acquisition techniques, microelectronics and wireless communication systems opened up the use of wearable technology for ehealth monitoring. We introduce a galvanic coupled intrabody communication for monitoring human body hydration. Studies in hydration provide the information necessary for understanding the desired fluid levels for optimal performance of the body’s physiological and metabolic processes during exercise and activities of daily living. Current measurement techniques are mostly suitable for laboratory purposes due to their complexity and technical requirements. Less technical methods such as urine color observation and skin turgor testing are subjective and cannot be integrated into a wearable device. Bioelectrical impedance methods are popular but mostly used for estimating total body water with limited accuracy and sensitive to 800 mL–1000 mL change in body fluid levels. We introduce a non-intrusive and simple method of tracking hydration rates that can detect up to 1.30 dB reduction in attenuation when as little as 100 mL of water is consumed. Our results show that galvanic coupled intrabody signal propagation can provide qualitative hydration and dehydration rates in line with changes in an individual’s urine specific gravity and body mass. The real-time changes in galvanic coupled intrabody signal attenuation can be integrated into wearable electronic devices to evaluate body fluid levels on a particular area of interest and can aid diagnosis and treatment of fluid disorders such as lymphoedema. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Analysis of In-to-Out Wireless Body Area Network Systems: Towards QoS-Aware Health Internet of Things Applications
Electronics 2016, 5(3), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics5030038 - 13 Jul 2016
Cited by 14
Abstract
In this paper, an analytical and accurate in-to-out (I2O) human body path loss (PL) model at 2.45 GHz is derived based on a 3D heterogeneous human body model under safety constraints. The bit error rate (BER) performance for this channel using multiple efficient [...] Read more.
In this paper, an analytical and accurate in-to-out (I2O) human body path loss (PL) model at 2.45 GHz is derived based on a 3D heterogeneous human body model under safety constraints. The bit error rate (BER) performance for this channel using multiple efficient modulation schemes is investigated and the link budget is analyzed based on a predetermined satisfactory BER of 10−3. In addition, an incremental relay-based cooperative quality of service-aware (QoS-aware) routing protocol for the proposed I2O WBAN is presented and compared with an existing scheme. Linear programming QoS metric expressions are derived and employed to maximize the network lifetime, throughput, minimizing delay. Results show that binary phase-shift keying (BPSK) outperforms other modulation techniques for the proposed I2O WBAN systems, enabling the support of a 30 Mbps data transmission rate up to 1.6 m and affording more reliable communication links when the transmitter power is increased. Moreover, the proposed incremental cooperative routing protocol outperforms the existing two-relay technique in terms of energy efficiency. Open issues and on-going research within the I2O WBAN area are presented and discussed as an inspiration towards developments in health IoT applications. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
A Comparative Review of Footwear-Based Wearable Systems
Electronics 2016, 5(3), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics5030048 - 10 Aug 2016
Cited by 29
Abstract
Footwear is an integral part of daily life. Embedding sensors and electronics in footwear for various different applications started more than two decades ago. This review article summarizes the developments in the field of footwear-based wearable sensors and systems. The electronics, sensing technologies, [...] Read more.
Footwear is an integral part of daily life. Embedding sensors and electronics in footwear for various different applications started more than two decades ago. This review article summarizes the developments in the field of footwear-based wearable sensors and systems. The electronics, sensing technologies, data transmission, and data processing methodologies of such wearable systems are all principally dependent on the target application. Hence, the article describes key application scenarios utilizing footwear-based systems with critical discussion on their merits. The reviewed application scenarios include gait monitoring, plantar pressure measurement, posture and activity classification, body weight and energy expenditure estimation, biofeedback, navigation, and fall risk applications. In addition, energy harvesting from the footwear is also considered for review. The article also attempts to shed light on some of the most recent developments in the field along with the future work required to advance the field. Full article
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Open AccessReview
A Fabric-Based Approach for Wearable Haptics
Electronics 2016, 5(3), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics5030044 - 26 Jul 2016
Cited by 9
Abstract
In recent years, wearable haptic systems (WHS) have gained increasing attention as a novel and exciting paradigm for human–robot interaction (HRI). These systems can be worn by users, carried around, and integrated in their everyday lives, thus enabling a more natural manner to [...] Read more.
In recent years, wearable haptic systems (WHS) have gained increasing attention as a novel and exciting paradigm for human–robot interaction (HRI). These systems can be worn by users, carried around, and integrated in their everyday lives, thus enabling a more natural manner to deliver tactile cues. At the same time, the design of these types of devices presents new issues: the challenge is the correct identification of design guidelines, with the two-fold goal of minimizing system encumbrance and increasing the effectiveness and naturalness of stimulus delivery. Fabrics can represent a viable solution to tackle these issues. They are specifically thought “to be worn”, and could be the key ingredient to develop wearable haptic interfaces conceived for a more natural HRI. In this paper, the author will review some examples of fabric-based WHS that can be applied to different body locations, and elicit different haptic perceptions for different application fields. Perspective and future developments of this approach will be discussed. Full article
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