Exploring the Tactor Configurations of Vibrotactile Feedback Systems for Use in Lower-Limb Prostheses

[+] Author and Article Information
Sam Shi

32-139 Stephenson Avenue Toronto, ON M4C1G2 Canada shuai.shi@mail.utoronto.ca

Matthew J. Leineweber

One Washington Square ENG 233G San Jose, CA 95192-0278 matthew.leineweber@sjsu.edu

Jan Andrysek

150 Kilgour Rd. Toronto, ON M4G1R8 Canada jandrysek@hollandbloorview.ca

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Technical Committee on Vibration and Sound of ASME for publication in the Journal of Vibration and Acoustics. Manuscript received June 1, 2018; final manuscript received April 17, 2019; published online xx xx, xxxx. Assoc. Editor: Miao Yu.

ASME doi:10.1115/1.4043610 History: Received June 01, 2018; Accepted April 18, 2019


Vibrotactile feedback may be able to compensate for the loss of sensory input in lower-limb prosthesis users to improve mobility function. Designing an effective vibrotactile feedback system requires that users are able to perceive and respond to vibrotactile stimuli correctly and in a timely manner. Our study explored four key tactor configuration variables (i.e. tactors' prosthetic layer, vibration intensity, prosthetic pressure, spacing between adjacent tactors) through two experiments. The vibration propagation experiment investigated the effects of tactor configurations on vibration amplitude at the prosthesis-limb interface. Results revealed a positive relationship between vibration amplitude and intensity, and a weak relationship between vibration amplitude and prosthetic pressure. Highest vibration amplitudes were observed when the tactor was located on the inner socket layer. The second experiment involving a sample of 10 able-bodied and 3 amputee subjects, investigated the effects of tactor configurations on user perception measured by response time, accuracy identifying tactors' stimulation patterns, and spatial error in locating the tactors. Results showed that placing the tactors on the inner socket layer, greater spacing between adjacent tactors, and higher vibration intensity resulted in better user perception. The above findings can be directly applied to the design of vibrotactile feedback systems to increase user response accuracy and decrease response time required for dynamic tasks such as gait. They can also help to inform future clinical trials informing the optimization of tactor configuration variables.

Copyright © 2019 by ASME
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